STILLWATER — After three years of planning and construction, Oklahoma State University's new art museum is nearly complete.
The Postal Plaza Gallery, a new downtown museum designed to showcase OSU's permanent art collection, is scheduled to open next month. Crews are in the last stages of renovating the historic building.
“The devil's in the details,” said museum director Vicky Berry. “That's where we are now.”
OSU officials plan to open the museum next month, Berry said. Most of the renovations will be complete by that point, she said, but it will allow the public the chance to see part of the process of converting the building from office space into a museum.
The museum's first exhibition will open in January, she said. That exhibition, called “Sharing a Journey: Building the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art Collection,” will include 230 pieces of art that showcase areas in which the university's art collection is particularly strong.
The university's collection spans a broad range of eras and cultures, Berry said. Almost all the pieces in the collection were donated to the university, she said. The collections of African, Chinese and Japanese art are particularly extensive, she said.
The gallery has been about three years in the making. OSU officials brought a proposal to buy and renovate the building before the Board of Regents for OSU and the A&M Colleges in 2010. Officials wanted to use the building as a way to allow students and the public to see the university's art collection, which had mostly been in storage up to that point.
The building dates back to the 1930s and, as the name would indicate, originally served as a post office.
The building has changed hands several times since then. About 25 years ago, the building underwent renovations, including walls that divided up a large, open area that was an original feature of the building. As a part of the renovation project, crews tore out those walls, leaving the open area.
Amy Jo Frazier, coordinator for the downtown Stillwater business improvement district, said the gallery will be an asset not just to the university, but also to the rest of the community. Having the gallery downtown will help enhance the cultural offerings in downtown Stillwater, she said.