By ASHLEY ANDERSON
The Speed Art Museum’s $50 million expansion is bringing an exciting and remarkable transformation to the 86-year-old building situated on the University of Louisville campus. But, that’s not the only change the beloved local treasure is about to undergo.
For the first time in 40 years, The Speed’s annual spring gala will be held in an all new location, due to the three-year construction and renovation of the museum, marking the first Speed Ball held away from home.
Presented by Brown-Forman and Heaven Hill Distilleries, with support from The Glenview Trust Company, Dinsmore and the Sterling G. Thompson Company, The Speed Ball will take place Saturday, March 2, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. beneath the elegant Art Deco-style architecture of The Gillespie, 421 W. Market St. “(The Speed was) trying to find a place that would have the feel and the vibe that has become the Speed,” said Lisa Resnik, chief operating officer and co-interim director of The Speed Art Museum. “We wanted (a venue) that was a little more unique, and when we went to look at The Gillespie we felt like that provided (what we were looking for).”
The 40th anniversary of the black tie-white tie event will be presented under the creative direction of Bittners President Douglas Riddle and chaired by Jonathan and Tracy Blue. Last year’s Speed Ball performer, Indigo, a Ken Arlen Orchestra, will return to dazzle attendees with eclectic, energetic dance music, following a culinary feast inspired by Corbett’s: An American Place.
“Jonathan and I are especially honored to chair the 40th annual Speed Ball, which is occurring in the midst of the museum’s incredible – and incredibly important – expansion project,” said Tracy Blue, publisher of The Voice-Tribune. “The ball is The Speed Art Museum’s biggest fundraiser for its operating costs, which includes programming and education. As art lovers and collectors, Jonathan and I felt strongly about ensuring The Speed Ball continue despite having to find a new location. The Gillespie will serve as a gorgeous temporary home for The Speed Ball. My husband and I look forward to greeting guests and enjoying what will be an exquisite, enjoyable evening.”
In addition to sharing in a unique experience with the new Speed Ball locale, the spring soiree will recognize each of the past chairs in its 40-year-history who have helped develop and maintain one of the premier galas in Louisville. The event will also highlight The Speed’s various educational and community outreach programs, as well as Speed About Town, an initiative created to remind the public The Speed is still fully in operation even though its facility is closed during the three-year construction period.
The Speed’s $50 million expansion project is currently in phase two of the building process, which includes construction of the new 60,000-square-foot North Building that will double the overall square footage and nearly triple the gallery space of the existing wing. The expansion also will create a state-of-the-art area for larger special exhibitions, new contemporary art galleries, a family education welcome center, indoor/outdoor café, museum shop and a multifunctional pavilion for performances, lectures and entertaining.
“It’s all transparent, it’s all glass-based,” Speed Museum Director of Operations and Expansion Greg Gardiner said of the design. “It’s storefront, effectively. Our gift shop’s out there, our lobby’s out there. Our old building is beautiful, but as far as events, some work better than others. So, (the new building) is really designed to be the most flexible and the best that anybody could come up with.”
Another addition to the museum will be the new Elizabeth P. and Frederick K. Cressman Art Park and public piazza built for the display of sculpture to engage University of Louisville students, faculty and museum visitors. “The old museum was very inward-focused and so now this new entry, the gardens we’re creating and constructing, opens the museum up to the community,” said Eric Doninger, chair of The Speed Art Museum Building Committee. “The (Speed) Ball (is) going out and being part of the community, the art’s going on the road (through traveling exhibits) to be a part of the community, so is the building. … And to me that’s what’s probably the most exciting part of this.”
While the expansion project will require significant fundraising, with the entire master plan estimated to cost about $79 million, The Speed Ball proceeds will support the facility’s education programs, exhibitions and family activities. “(Speed Ball proceeds) will not go to the expansion,” Resnik confirmed. “The campaign that we have for the expansion is for private and corporate foundation gifts. But what we’re doing here for the ball, that is our largest fundraiser for the operating budget, so it goes to a variety of programs, for education, public programming, so that we can keep everything going out in the community.”
The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum with a collection spanning 6,000 years of human creativity. The independent museum serves more than 30,000 school children annually through community outreach programs, workshops, tours, summer camps and the award-winning Art Sparks interactive gallery.
“I just think that the Speed is Kentucky’s museum, it’s the city of Louisville’s museum and you need to be supportive,” Resnik encouraged. “And, just because our doors are closed doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be out in the public. … (The Speed Ball) is vital to keep the program going. So we need people to come out and support and attend the ball, and it’s a fun time and we will continue to have a fun time even though we’re not on the premises here.”
The 2013 Speed Art Museum Ball
For the first time in its 40-year-history, The Speed Art Museum’s annual Speed Ball will take place in an all new location, The Gillespie, 421 W. Market St., while the museum undergoes construction as part of its $50 million expansion project. President of Bittners Douglas Riddle will provide the creative direction for the event, which is co-chaired by Jonathan and Tracy Blue.
Benefactor tickets for the 2013 Speed Ball are $450 per person; Corporate Benefactor tickets are also available. The Benefactor evening will begin at 6 p.m. and includes cocktails, dinner, dancing and dessert. Friends of the Speed tickets are $150. The Friends of the Speed portion of the event will begin at 9 p.m. and includes cocktails, dancing and dessert.
The Speed Ball is routinely sold out each year. Early ticket purchase is strongly advised. For tickets, call 502.637.6363. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted.
For more information on The Speed Ball or The Speed Art Museum and its expansion, visit www.speedmuseum.org.