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Albany Museum of Art unveils newly-renovated spaces (WITH VIDEO)

Albany Museum of Art Board of Trustees member Beth Lakhanpal talks with curator Merritt Giles during a tour of the museum renovations Wednesday morning.

Albany Museum of Art Board of Trustees member Beth Lakhanpal talks with curator Merritt Giles during a tour of the museum renovations Wednesday morning.

ALBANY, Ga. — The leadership of the Albany Museum of Art showed off a newly-completed phase of renovations that has transformed some of the public spaces within the facility.

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While much of the renovation project continues, including the transformation of one space into a mixed-use sculpture garden and the addition of a new catering kitchen and storage area, much of the area that greets the public has been completely overhauled to include new flooring, a more open floor plan and a new paint scheme meant to be more modern and welcoming to museum visitors.

"It's a very exciting time for us here at the museum," Interim Director Karen Kemp said. "We have this wonderful renovation that will allow us to do new things both creatively with our exhibits and with our rentals — we'll be able to offer a much more attractive space to them."

Once totally completed, the renovations will top $750,000; funding which is being provided through some of the museum's most generous benefactors, Board of Trustees President Banks Margeson says.

"Thanks to a very generous gift from our benefactors we have embarked on renovating the Willson Auditorium as well as the pre-event space, our new lobby," Margeson said. "What we've done is try to open it up and make it more modern and inviting to the public because that's our ultimate goal. This is our museum. This is Albany-Dougherty County's museum and the artwork here is for everyone and we wanted it to be more accessible to everyone."

Museum officials also hope to eventually court more use of the facility by students at nearby Darton College by offering it as a place for them to study and to take advantage of their amenities such as free wifi.

The completion of the latest phase of renovations come just as the museum welcomes a new exhibit by Albany native Rob Matre, who now is an Atlanta Gallery owner and photographer who focuses on urban and rural landscapes and golf.

The museum will host an opening reception for Matre and his exhibit Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.