Renaissance Room first space to be rebuilt halfway through Speed - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Renaissance Room first space to be rebuilt halfway through Speed Museum renovation

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A wood carving in the English Renaissance Room. A wood carving in the English Renaissance Room.
LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- The JB Speed Art Museum at U of L is still closed while it completes a three year, $60 million renovation and expansion project.

Many parts of it still look like a construction zone but that's because the Speed Art Museum is just half way through the renovation project, but the most progress can be seen inside the English Renaissance Room.

"This is actually the first space in the new museum, the new Speed Art Museum, to be re-installed," said Scott Erbes, Chief Curator.

Erbes said the room is a community favorite.

"I think it's the atmosphere of it. It's the quality of it. It's unlike anything else you'll see in the United States," said Erbes.

Contractors have been working since 2012 to reconstruct the room and bring it as close as they can to its original 17th century state. That meant disassembling, documenting each piece and then putting it back together, all while preserving its condition.

"There's been a lot of work going on, a lot of thinking going on before you can do the physical work. This room has always been a puzzle like that. Literally. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle," Erbes explained.

The physical work has been happening since August and contractors plan to have the room finished in just a few days.

"To see people come in, children and grown ups come into the joyous space that now very closely replicates that room what it looked like in England, there's no greater reward so it's worth it just to sit back and look and when you're done, that's the only pat on the back you need," said Mike Kelley.

Kelley runs a historic preservation consulting and contracting firm and said this has been a very challenging project.

"Every time we do a project, we learn something. Every single time," he said.

Cardboard and tarps still drape other areas of the museum but museum officials say when it reopens, there will be additional gallery space as well as areas dedicated to other mediums.

The museum is set to reopen in April 2016.

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