The Stark Museum of Art will be opening its doors for a Grand Viewing on Thursday, Dec. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend and see the newly remodeled galleries and lobby. Refreshments are being provided by the museum and entertainment will come in the form of Jerry Nichols and Texas Thunder, musicians. The Grand Viewing is being held for the museum to show off the work it has been undergoing for a year.

Museum Director Sarah Boehme wants visitors to take away more than trip to the local museum. “I want visitors to take away a sense of how art makes us human and enlivens our experience. I think looking at a work of art is a way to focus your tension on an ideal, and we present this collection in a way that will create an environment for people to enjoy and be inspired by art.”

This remodeling has placed the museum at the forefront of museum technology. Two new attractions are the cause for this. The LED (light emitting diode) system has been put in place in order to give the interior more natural light. This natural light enables the viewer to see the work the way the artist created it. The LED system as replaced the incandescent system that has always been present in the museum. Along with providing natural light, the new system will also be cheaper to maintain, with 350 fixtures compared to 400, and a longer lifespan in each bulb.

The second technological leap in the museum are the new iPads that are present in gallery one and the special exhibit hall. These iPads allow for viewers to see the works on a projected screen and enlarge them for closer inspection. The iPads also allow for the user to view all the works that are related to the gallery in a easy to navigate database.

The new technology is housed in all new galleries. The museum has replaced all the dull, neutral colors, that according to the Museum Director Sarah Boehme “was a good flexible system, but it was looking very dated in terms of the interior and it meant that we couldn’t experiment with color.”

This dated fabric has been replaced with several of these new experimental colors. For the American Frontier Gallery the color is a mix of light blue and dark green, giving the Frontier Gallery and very natural exterior feel.

For the gallery that focuses on the people that lived out west a dark shade of yellow lit with bright LED bulbs gives the viewer a sense of standing under the shining New Mexico sun. This room is populated by works from the Taos Society of Artist, among whom are Joseph Henry Sharp, E.L. Blumenschein, Bert Phillips, E.I. Couse, W.H. Dunton, E. Martin Hennings, Oscar Berninghaus, Victor Higgins, Walter Ufer and Kenneth Adams.

Their works focused on the Pueblo lifestyles and capturing what they saw as the perfect west. These works were often painted in extreme lighting and the LED bulbs really show the work at its full potential.

Along with the galleries, the lobby as also been redone. Instead of having the closed feeling that the old lobby had, the new lobby is more open with the visitors desk moved to the right of the door and on the left the museum store has been given more space.

The museum has also been rearranged so that the exhibitions are shown in a logical manner. The layout is designed so that it follows typical human nature, with the start of the art being to the right and following a path around the entirety of the museum.

The reason for the museum being updated is so that it stays relevant to the area. Boehme stated her reason for believing the museum is here in Orange.

“I think the American West is the story of America,” Boehme said. “That push to know the land that was part of the Western expansion is part of who we are as Americans. We don’t have the long history of Europe, America found its identity in its landscape and what the natural resources had to offer. Our push to explore and know the unknown its part of who I think we are, and that’s what I think this art reflects. That’s why its relevant even in an area where many of us regard ourselves as Southerners rather then Westerners, we are in Texas, we’re part of the West. It was that push that brought people into this area as well. That identification with the land, with knowing it, with becoming a part of it, and with proofing ourselves is part of our story.”

The museum is located at 712 Green Avenue in Orange. Normal hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and its free to the public. For more information call 409-886-ARTS (2787) or visit The Museum will close early, at 2 p.m., on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011.