Only on WDRB: Speed Art Museum reassembles intricate display - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Only on WDRB: Speed Art Museum reassembles intricate Renaissance Room

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Its doors won't open for another two years. But don't be fooled by the tarps, chain link fences, earth movers and hard hats - there's a lot of work going on inside the currently-closed Speed Art Museum.

And it's work that leaves no room for
mistakes.

"It's working without a net and there's no room for I'm sorry's," said Mike Kelley, a historic preservationist and contractor.

Kelley, who runs a Virginia-based historic preservation consulting and contracting firm, was hired by the museum to reassemble the English Renaissance Room that his team of expert contractors disassembled in January of 2012.

To say the 17th century wood-carved wall panels are delicate would be a gross understatement, according to Kelley.

"They're priceless," he said. "This time around is - in a lot of ways - the hardest part. "

The challenge: Kelley and his team will have to reassemble the English Renaissance Room in a smaller space with fewer fabricated materials.

Interim Chief Curator Scott Erbes chose Kelley and his team because of their expertise in the field.

"When the room was installed here at the museum in the 1940s (as was typical during the time) they took huge liberties with it, they changed its dimensions, they added material to it, " said Erbes.

Kelley's job includes overseeing the reassembly. Erbes' goal is to have the room more closely resemble the 17th century room as it was originally. (Or at least, as close to it as possible).

This week, Kelley and his men will spend hours each day taking measurements, assembling the panels on the ground in a sort of giant puzzle contest while cataloging each piece so that it fits the museum's revived vision.

The Speed will remain closed for another two years as part of a $60 million renovation. When it reopens, there will be additional gallery space for Kentucky art as well as expansive areas dedicated to other mediums like film, Erbes said.

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