Addition to the Butler Museum will Open in April

YOUNGSTOWN – The Butler Institute of American Art’s new addition, dubbed the Vincent & Phyllis Bacon Wing, will open next month.

The $2 million, 3,810 square-foot structure features a window wall that will become the home of one of the museum’s prize possessions: the 14-by 20-foot masterpiece ceramic mural by the late French artist Pierre Soulages titled “14 May, 1968.”

Passersby on foot or in vehicles on Wick Avenue will be able to see the mural, which will be lit up at night. The Soulages had been displayed at the Medici Museum of Art in Howland but has been returned to the Butler after a legal dispute with the Medici over its ownership was settled in December.

An opening reception will take place at 6 p.m. April 15 at the Butler. Museum members will receive an invitation, but anyone can request one by calling the museum.

“This is one of those very special moments in the history of the Butler,” said Louis Zona, executive director and curator of the museum, in a press release. “Included in the Bacon Wing are strikingly beautiful exhibition galleries, including the Bacon Grand Gallery that will enable the Butler to exhibit seldom seen works in an impressive space.”

The Soulages mural will be unveiled at the reception.

“The new Vincent and Phyllis Bacon wing will add much to an already handsome facility,” Zona said, noting that it complements the exterior of the landmark museum that opened in 1919. “The spectacular exhibition galleries relate closely to the Butler’s historic neoclassical structure that, in the words of architect C. Robert Buchanan, is a ‘jewel box.’”

The two-story Bacon Wing was designed by Buchanan, with construction beginning in early 2022. The new 30-foot by 46-foot wing is located forward of the 28,000 square-foot Beecher Center wing, which opened in 2000 on the south side of the Butler’s white marble neoclassic building.

Both Zona and Buchanan will be honored at the April 15 reception, and a donation by the David Bermant Foundation will be recognized.

The Bacon Grand Gallery will also include space for traveling exhibitions and works from the Butler’s permanent collection. With its high ceiling height, it will enable the Butler to display large scale paintings that could not be shown in other Butler galleries.

A gallery on the lower level of the wing will initially exhibit works from the Draime collection, which went on display last year. The basement level will be used for storage. 

The Bacons, of Canfield, are known for their philanthropy in the Mahoning Valley.

Pictured at top: The new Vincent & Phyllis Bacon wing at the Butler Institute of American Art.

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