Reimagining Woodmere

Join Us for a Community Meeting on March 21 

by William R. Valerio
Posted 3/10/22

Again, with gratitude for the outpouring of community support, I'm pleased to invite one and all to join me for a community presentation on Monday, March 21 at 7:00pm on Zoom. I will provide a …

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Reimagining Woodmere

Join Us for a Community Meeting on March 21 

Posted

Again, with gratitude for the outpouring of community support, I'm pleased to invite one and all to join me for a community presentation on Monday, March 21 at 7:00pm on Zoom. I will provide a detailed update on Woodmere’s plans for the transformation of Saint Michael’s Hall and I’ll be joined by our team of architects. We look forward to your questions, ideas, and feedback.  

My main goal will be to convey how Saint Michael’s transforms Woodmere. A primary responsibility that I shoulder together with the Museum’s staff and trustees is to make Woodmere’s collection of 8,000 works of art accessible and interesting to our growing and increasingly diverse community of visitors. By offering encounters with art that engage the mind, the museum creates opportunities to build empathy, find reflection, and develop skills of self-expression. In the presentation on March 21, I will offer a digital journey inside Saint Michaels, describing our plans to change the many parlors and bedrooms of the 17,000 square-foot mansion into beautiful galleries that showcase the strengths and depth of our collection. Those “in the know” count Woodmere’s collection to be among the most distinguished of its kind across the field of American art. Now this stature will be on display more thoroughly than ever before, and the artists of Philadelphia will shine in new ways. 

In reading my words, your reaction may be that a museum is not only about a collection of art. And that’s correct. A museum is a place–a building and a landscape–that is planned to shape experiences with the art. For example, the great “Rocky steps” of our Philadelphia Museum of Art were designed to create a gradual, unhurried ascension to prepare people for the masterpieces inside. At the same time, museums nowadays are busy, social places designed for communities to share cultural experiences. This too requires decisions about the use of space. In Woodmere’s presentation on March 21, you will hear from our architects about how they are planning to rejuvenate Saint Michael’s Hall and its landscape, not only responding to the needs of Woodmere’s collection, but also preserving the grace of the historic structure and enhancing the green beauty of the four acres. 

Finally, let me describe that Woodmere will also be making a first, brief presentation to the Development Review Committee of the Community Association at their evening meeting on March 15. This launches the official review process that will lead to eventual permits for construction. Presuming that all goes well, the ongoing series of Community and City meetings will run through the remainder of 2022.  Again, we are lucky in Chestnut Hill to have a strong and organized Community Association; the schedule of community meetings can be found on the Association’s website. 

Thank you, and I hope to be seeing you!

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