By Andy Hirsch
LEWISBURG, Pa. — A single sculpture in the window of the historic DeWitt Building on Market Street gives passersby just a hint of what's in store for the newly renovated space.
"We're going to let people wonder a bit, appeal to their sense of curiosity," said Richard Rinehart, director of the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University.
Rinehart is putting the finishing touches on what promises to be a valuable addition to the collection of shops, restaurants and other attractions downtown: Bucknell University's Downtown Art Gallery.
"I couldn't have chosen a more perfect location," Rinehart said. "We are opening in the heart of this community. And while this is still part of Bucknell's academic gallery program, the Downtown Art Gallery is a space where the campus really opens up and says 'community members, students, everyone is welcome.'"
Rinehart called the new gallery a unique opportunity for both the University and the community. "We have the resources to look out into the whole world and bring the best art right here to Lewisburg. With this space, we can do that and engage the community in a way we've never been able to in the past."
The gallery sits directly across from the Campus Theatre, which recently underwent its own multi-million dollar renovation. Rinehart expects the two spaces to complement each other nicely.
"We can certainly collaborate on how we engage the audience and the community," he explained. "You can't force it, but when there are opportunities, we can have an exhibit echo a theme of a film series, or the gallery can program a specific film showing related to the art. We can have lectures there and receptions here, or stay open late for people to gather after a film is shown. There are all kinds of opportunities to overlap."
Rinehart emphasized that exhibits in the Downtown Art Gallery will differ from work displayed at the Samek Art Gallery on campus, but he believes the two will benefit from each other.
"We'd be missing some opportunities for academic and community engagement if we just made this an overflow gallery," said Rinehart. "We do hope the experience people have downtown will draw them to the Samek. It's a beautiful space filled with amazing works."
The Downtown Art Gallery is one piece of a major renovation project at the historic DeWitt Building. The new Bucknell University Entrepreneurs Incubator occupies the second floor. The University's Small Business Development Center recently relocated to the third floor.
The first exhibit is nearly installed, though Rinehart is keeping it somewhat of a secret until the gallery officially opens to the public on March 31.
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