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Tucson Museum of Art Transformation


Tucson’s “Guggenheim” reopens after first museum-wide renovation in over a decade

A striking statue of a dying horseman, crafted in fiberglass by the late, acclaimed Luis Jimenez, has long languished in a distant downstairs gallery in the Tucson Museum of Art.

Made of the same brilliant fiberglass used in lowrider cars, Jimenez's "End of the Trail with Electric Sunset" has a Native American warrior slumping forward on his life-sized steed. And like those lowriders, the sculpture is ablaze with light: The horse's eyes glow an electric red and the fiberglass sunset below him shines an incandescent orange.

For years, the glittering artwork, a prized piece by a significant Mexican-American artist, was not exactly shown to best effect in the museum's landlocked downstairs corridor. Now the horse and rider have ridden on up to a place of glory.

They're in a big new glass window right by the TMA's front door, as visible to passersbys as mannequins in a shop window. And just to make sure that no one misses the piece, the horse's electric eyes shine all night long.

The big move "End of the Trail" made to a highly-visible location is just one of many salutary improvements at the museum, which reopened last weekend after a renovation at least a year in the planning and four months in the making.

"This is our first renovation in over 15 years," director Jeremy Mikolajczak said on a tour last week. "We're adapting to unique architecture. With the descending spiral, this is Tucson's own Guggenheim."

The 1974 building, designed by architect William Wilde, was overhauled by Andy Anderson "from top to bottom. The curatorial team looked at everything, from the Pre-Columbian work on up. Everything on this campus has been touched."

At a cost of $750,000, all of it contributed it by private donors, the museum has expanded its gallery space, adding 5,000 square feet for a new total of 30,000. It's installed a handsome wood floor, removed some walls to create a feeling of openness and replaced the old air-conditioning system.


To read the full story by Margaret Regan of Tucson Weekly, click here.

For Tucson Museum of Art Admission & Hours, click here.