Architect shares vision for Ocean Springs museum expansion

At a topping out ceremony on Tuesday, people signed their names on the highest beam over what will soon be the new entrance to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
At a topping out ceremony on Tuesday, people signed their names on the highest beam over what will soon be the new entrance to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The architect behind the expansion of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art says he tried to strike a balance between creating something beautiful and something user friendly. Dennis Cowart's design is now under construction in Ocean Springs.

At a topping out ceremony on Tuesday, people signed their names on the highest beam over what will soon be the new entrance to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. The architect for the new entryway said he wanted create a great first impression for dignitaries and visitors and provide the space so the museum can welcome people in by the bus loads.

"What we were trying to do with this new entry pavilion was make an entry that was a little bit more friendly and could accommodate more groups that the current entry in museum," said Cowart.

Cowart said in designing the museum expansion, he talked to the original designer of the building and tried to reflect Walter Anderson's love of nature and his introverted personality.

"We wanted to bring the inside outside so the steel structure you see there now on the front and the sides with be sheathed entirely in glass," Cowart said. "Then the inside will mimic the interior of the museum. There will be lots of pickled wood finished."

The expansion is transforming two internal courtyards. Cowart said in the past the museum has always had trouble figuring out how to utilize the space.

Cowart said, "We're enclosing those and bringing light through with skylights. Kind of get the original design back into those spaces and use them as gallery space."

Mayor Connie Moran said growth and expansion are important.

"It adds an additional element of excitement," Moran said. "As with any museum, you continue to change exhibits, have new programs, reach out to all sectors and all people. Visitors and local citizens alike."

Museum officials said the construction is scheduled to be complete in mid-December.

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