Metal Museum forges ahead with plans for Rust Hall

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 9:32 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A fiery future is in store for Rust Hall at Overton Park. The City of Memphis signed a lease clearing the way for the Metal Museum to take over the space once occupied by the Memphis College of Art.

Rust Hall was the main building for MCA. The school closed in May of 2020 because of financial problems. With the signing of the lease, the Metal Museum plans to make sure art is still created in this iconic building.

Rust Hall, designed by architect Roy Harrover, the same man who designed Memphis International Airport and Mud Island Park, was home to MCA starting in 1959. Now it will become the new home of the Metal Museum, which is the only institution in North America dedicated to fine metal working.

Tyler Trent and Samuel Carrera are new to Memphis and they’re both architecture aficionados.

They told Action News 5 they’re glad the mid-century masterpiece is going to be renovated and transformed into something bigger and better for the entire community.

“I’m excited,” Tyler said, “because I love metal working and welding. It seems awesome and I just learned a little bit about it. So it’s cool to see local craft and kind of dive into the art culture in Memphis.”

Museum Executive Director Carissa Hussong told Action News 5: “As the future tenant of Rust Hall, the Metal Museum is elated for the possibilities an expansion of this magnitude provides not only for the museum, but for Memphis, the Mid-South and the international metalworking community. We consider this a tremendous honor and responsibility to preserve this mid-century architectural icon and breathe new life into this beloved building in the heart of Memphis.”

The Metal Museum will maintain its current facility overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis.

Rust Hall will become a center for metal arts, offering exhibitions and educational opportunities for all ages.

“The Metal Museum has long been one of the cornerstones of Memphis’ creative community,” said Mayor Jim Strickland, “bringing international exhibitions to the region and introducing the art and craft of metalwork to our city. I am inspired by the collaborative aspects of this endeavor and look forward to the day that the doors of Rust Hall open again for everyone to enjoy.”

Renovations on the 80,000 square foot building start when the Metal Museum has $25 million committed.

Right now more than $16 million has been secured, helping forge a path forward to keep the arts alive in Overton Park.

“Having another museum close to the park,” said Samuel Carrera, “that would definitely bring a lot of people in, and who doesn’t like seeing pieces of art?” The Windgate Foundation made a $12 million commitment to the Metal Museum. ArtsMemphis, the Assisi Foundation, First Horizon Foundation and the Hyde Family Foundation have also provided support.

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