NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 8, 2018)—On Monday, January 29, 2018, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts will begin a complete renovation of its award-winning Martin ArtQuest Gallery (MAQ). The sixteen-year-old hands-on art-making space serves as a premier destination for families, children, and school groups to explore art. Scheduled to reopen on Thursday, May 24, 2018, the updated gallery will feature enhanced activities focused on creative collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.

The innovative redesign will bring fresh energy to the beloved resource, which to date has served nearly 1.5 million visitors of all abilities. “The great success of the gallery is directly related to the abiding passion and generosity of Ellen Martin and the Martin Foundation, who from the very early planning stages of the Frist Center played an integral part in the creation of this multigenerational and educational space,” says Frist Center Executive Director Dr. Susan H. Edwards.

Upon opening in 2001, MAQ was at the forefront of museum education and became widely regarded as a leading interactive gallery. “MAQ’s success is truly gratifying, but constant use and love over the past sixteen years have taken a significant toll on equipment and furnishings,” says Frist Center Director of Education and Outreach Anne Henderson. “The existing infrastructure is at the end of its life expectancy. Materials used to build the original stations have been discontinued, and software that was cutting-edge when installed in 2001—before the advent of smartphones—is no longer able to keep pace with current technology.”

During the renovation, hands-on art-making activities will still be available to Frist Center visitors. From January 29 through May 23, 2018, some of the existing art stations and activities will be moved into the adjacent studio classroom spaces on the upper level of the Frist Center.

Family Mondays
Family Mondays, a new program offered on the last Monday of every month, will also begin on January 29. From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., families can enjoy special programming, including storytime, family tours and MAQ activities in the studios. Entire families will be admitted for the price of one adult admission and discounts will be offered for the café, gift shop, and parking in the Frist Center visitor lot. See below for more details.

The New MAQ
Dynamic new activities as well as old favorites will be housed in an inviting and refreshed space.

• Drawing, painting, printmaking, and other popular stations will return, but with improved functionality and variety.
• The exploration of the moving image will include a large zoetrope, a shadow theater, and stop-motion animation.
• A 16-foot interactive wall composed of color-changing dials will allow visitors to create large-scale designs using the full spectrum of colors.
• Visitors will be invited to contribute to a collaborative textile- weaving installation using a large six-sided art deco grid.
• A full-body digital painting experience will transform visitors into colors and shapes on a wall mural.
• Activities that explore Frist Center exhibitions, artists, and ideas will include new opportunities for visitor participation, dialogue, and response.
• In coming years, contemporary artists will be invited to design new interactive stations and to keep the space fresh and engaging.

The redesign was led by Roto, a leading creative consultant and design-build firm for museums, which operates a prototyping, technical engineering and fabrication shop, as well as an in-house visitor and school group evaluation program. Nashville-based R.C. Mathews Contractor will execute the construction of the space.

The design responds to the prevalent cultural interest in hands-on learning as well as the increased popularity of shared learning and social media across generations. The changes also incorporate research findings from the four-year Family Learning in Interactive Galleries (FLING) research study funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, co-led by the Frist Center, the Speed Museum (Louisville), and the High Museum of Art (Atlanta). “Conversations with Frist Center families revealed the value they placed on interactive galleries as safe places to relax and unwind while engaging in rich sensory activities that foster a love and understanding of art,” says Henderson. “We have based our approach on visitor feedback. MAQ’s fundamental concepts will remain consistent. Art-making stations will continue to emphasize fundamental principles of art, and activities will be based on original works of art that correspond with current exhibitions on view in our galleries.”

While MAQ’s physical footprint will stay the same, the renovation will greatly expand the functionality and flexibility of the existing space, allowing for clear sight lines. Accessibility for all visitors remains a core commitment in the renovation. To address environmental issues that may affect visitors, sound baffling will be added to reduce noise, and light will be increased throughout the gallery to enhance visibility.

Grand Reopening
Progress updates will be posted on and on social media (@fristcenter). The grand reopening of Martin ArtQuest Gallery is scheduled for May 24, and will include a ribbon cutting with Ellen H. Martin, and performances and activities in the auditorium and throughout the building. Admission will be free to the public from 3:00 p.m. to 9 p.m.

More Information about Family Mondays
Last Monday of every month
10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Admission: Entire family for cost of one adult admission; members free
10:30 Artful Tales: Storytime in the Galleries, Spanish version offered at 11
11:30 Family walk-up tour with sensory bags; Martin ArtQuest reserved for families (no school groups)

Café: Kids receive 15% off menu
Gift shop: 10% off children’s items; members receive 20% off from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Initial support for the renovation came from Ellen H. Martin, who has championed the space as a special place for children and families. Additional financial support has also come from the Hearst Foundation and from visitors of all ages.

Supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts

Buddy Kite: 615.744.3351, ”
Ellen Jones Pryor: 615.243.1311, ”

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About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Center offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Information on accessibility can be found at Gallery admission is free for visitors 18 and younger and for members; $12 for adults; $9 for seniors and college students with ID; and $7 for active military. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5:00–9:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more can receive discounts with advance reservations by calling 615.744.3247. The galleries, café, and gift shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00–5:30 p.m., with the café opening at noon. For additional information, call 615.244.3340 or visit

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