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Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024
The Observer

Raclin Murphy Museum of Art to replace Snite Museum of Art starting Nov. 2023

Since April 2021, passersby will have noticed the construction of a new building on the northwest corner of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park. This structure, called the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, will soon be home to Notre Dame’s expansive art collection. 

The new museum will be constructed in two phases. The first phase of construction is anticipated to be completed in November 2023 and there is not yet an anticipated completion date for phase two. The museum will be 70,000 square feet after the first phase and 132,000 square feet after the second phase. The current Snite Museum of Art is 72,000 square feet.

Joseph Becherer, director and curator of sculpture at the Snite Museum of Art, said once phase one is complete, the University’s art collection will be moved from the Snite Museum of Art to the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art. 

As phase two takes place, the Snite Museum of Art will serve predominantly as a location for research and storage. Once phase two is complete, the functioning of the museum will be completely moved to the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, and the Snite Museum of Art will be available for other uses, Becherer said.

“It's amazing real estate, right here at the center of campus, right across from the stadium,” Becherer said. “I think that the possibilities are pretty much endless for what will happen to [the Snite].” 

Snite museum employees dressed in winter clothes outside of the Raclin Murphy construction site
Courtesy of Gina Costa
The current staff at the Snite Museum of Art took a tour of the construction site of the new Raclin Murphy Museum of Art.

The size of the university’s art collection has outgrown the space available at the Snite Museum of Art, Becherer explained. Additionally, the new museum will serve as a welcoming entry point to campus. 

“Having us in the sculpture park at the entrance to campus fulfills not just part of our spatial needs, but also our community needs,” Becherer said.

The University hired the firm Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) to design the new museum. 

Gina Costa, marketing and public relations program manager at the Snite Museum of Art, said there are works of art that have not been put on view for decades because of the limited space in the Snite Museum of Art. 

“Our new museum gives us the opportunity to show this amazing collection of over 30,000 works,” Costa said.

Costa said she believes the Snite Museum of Art is old, cramped and does not offer the desired teaching spaces and she intends for the interior design of the new museum will be open and airy, with less closed-off rooms. 

“The arts are so important to the educational experience, [so] we're so excited to give you a great art museum,” Costa said.

Ernestine Raclin along with her daughter and son-in-law Carmen and Chris Murphy donated $66 million in 2017 for the construction of the new museum. 

Raclin is a trustee emeritus of Notre Dame and longtime supporter of the University. Chris Murphy, who graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1968, is chair, president and chief executive officer of 1st Source Corp. Carmi Murphy currently sits on the President’s Circle of Saint Mary’s College and has served on the Snite Museum Advisory Council since 2007. 

The new building was scheduled to begin construction in spring 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Becherer said he is excited for the new museum to welcome student visits from across academic disciplines and to serve as a connection to the community. 

“It's a great opportunity to celebrate one of the crown jewels of Notre Dame, not just for campus, not just for this region, but really for the nation,” Becherer said.