Renovated Avenir Museum reopens, exhibits new collections

Nicole Towne

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Photos by Natalie Dyer.

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Colorado State University’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising reopened its doors to the public on Saturday with four new collections to show off plus a modern and sustainable space for visitation and study.

The museum, which houses a collection of nearly 20,000 pieces, is located just south of the University Center for the Arts at 216 E. Lake St.

The renovation, including a 18,676 square foot expansion, was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Counsel. The building was made to be energy efficient and have improved air quality by utilizing building materials and furnishings low in volatile organic compounds.

Avenir is the French word for future, but the museum was also named after the foundation which helped make the expansion possible. The Avenir is displaying three public collections in the museum and one collection located at the UCA.

The exhibits include “Mr. Blackwell: Artist of Subtle Witchery,” “Layers of Meaning: Color and Design in Guatemalan Textiles,” “Tiny Bits and Pieces” and “The Power of Maya Women’s Artistry.”

The “Mr. Blackwell” exhibit includes a display of 13 dresses and jumpsuits designed by Richard Blackwell, famous fashion designer and creator of best and worst-dressed lists. The exhibit presents glamorous pieces from the 1960s to the 1990s, two of which are making their final public appearance before returning to storage due to their delicate nature.

Freshman Lyric Fortson said it is interesting how clothes can connect to people who grew up during that time as well as people growing up today.

“I think it’s really cool that they’re bring back this era to the present day,” Fortson said.

“Layers of Meaning” features colorful, authentic and traditional fabrics and coverings from Guatemala.

“Tiny Bits and Pieces” is a display of intricate and vibrant miniature quilts created by Lucile Hawks, who received her master’s in home economics from CSU in 1958.

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The last exhibit, “The Power of Maya Women’s Artistry,” is located in the Avenir Gallery at the UCA in room 115. The gallery holds 10 rugs handmade by Guatemalan women as part of the Maya Women’s Rug Hooking Cooperative of Guatemala. Next to each rug is a picture of the woman who made it and a story that allows the viewer to glimpse into her life and struggles, but also her successes through learning to make rugs.

The staff is thrilled to have this new space and is excited for the opportunities it will bring for both students and the community.

“Our hope for a lot of these expedition spaces is that we can involve students in doing the research and work, certainly in handling and working with the collections, but then the ability for the community to come in and appreciate how CSU students study, what they study and how they learn,” said Doreen Beard, director of Operations and Engagement.

For curator Megan Osborne, clothing is a representation of history.

“It is a visual and tactile record of our history,” Osborne said. “Why it was worn and how it was made was so much more than someone running out to target to get a t-shirt.”

For more information about the museum and events visit its website.

Collegian Reporter Nicole Towne can be reached online at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @nicole_towne21.