Big changes for Downtown’s Modern?

The Modern architectural rendering by assemblageSTUDIOS

One year after it was publicly announced, the Modern art museum project is undergoing major changes as the board refreshes its messaging, reconsiders location options and seeks a new board chair.

Board members voted this week to approve possible locations for the museum site and to seek a new chairman, now that the three-year board term has ended for Brett Sperry, owner of Brett Wesley Gallery, who initiated the project and planned to donate land at Casino Center and Charleston boulevards for the construction of a $29 million museum.

"It's time to refresh the project, look at options of location and ensure that our communication about the project is more clear than it has been in the past," says Julie Murray, CEO and principle of the Moonridge Group and a key adviser to the Modern's board, adding that its members are grateful for Sperry's service and will also seek a vice-chair.

"We’re exploring all sorts of new and wonderful opportunities because a lot of avenues have opened in the last six months," says Patrick Duffy, who has been providing guidance to board members. Duffy declined to address specifics, saying that some of the ideas are too early to discuss.

It was one year ago this month that Sperry and Murray announced the Modern (then the Modern Contemporary) to the community at Lady Silvia and presented architectural plans. This spring, the board announced that the name had been changed to the Modern and that the board of directors had expanded to include Dr. Keith Boman, vice chairman of the board for the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, and Daniel Hamilton, dean of UNLV's Boyd School of Law.

In May, Murray said the board had raised $2 million of its $29 million goal, and representatives say that at the $4 million mark the board will begin searching for an executive director.

While the word in the Downtown arts community is that the Modern will be moving to Symphony Park, Murray says that the board has only voted to consider different location options and that the museum could stay in its originally planned site.

Recent decisions, she says, are a result of making the project more transparent. "We want to make it an inclusive process and ensure that the community has a way for their voice to be heard about what the museum can and should be."

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Kristen Peterson

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