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Pearl Fincher continues its art outreach expansion programs

Spring Observer - 3/5/2017

The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts plans to expand its reach to area school children this year.

The museum has teamed with Klein Independent School District to start a new, art-based program for special needs students.

"We are going to jointly develop programs for special needs kids, particularly children with autism and visually impaired students," said Calvin Cobb, chairman of the board at the museum.

"This fits into the broad picture of our school of arts that is built on education," Cobb said.

The program will begin in late spring of 2017, Cobb said.

The museum plans to eventually expand the program to other districts in the northwest Houston region, as well as private schools and homeschooled children.

The Pearl already works closely with area students and hosts many student field trips throughout the year.

Of the 25,000 visitors to The Pearl each year, half of them are children.

"We have a well developed program for children," Cobb said.

The Pearl is working on a long-term plan to open a second museum at the intersection of Texas 249 and the Grand Parkway in Tomball. The new location will be larger, and will have it's own collection. Right now, The Pearl borrows art collections.

That new site is in the early conceptual stages, and it will not open until 2020 or beyond, Cobb said.

"This is something that takes some time to put together," Cobb said. "We have an architectural firm developing the concepts. We have been meeting with Harris County to conceptualize how a museum will fit into their new site. That's moving along on the right schedule."

The new museum will not take the place of The Pearl, rather it will be a second museum. The current museum will continue to flourish and offer fine arts and education to the community, Cobb said.

"This site where we are now will continue into the future," Cobb said. "We have a commitment to this community."

Since the opening of The Pearl, the museum board of directors have planned to expand to a second location after its capacity reached 25,000 to 30,000 visitors a year.

"We have been in the mid-25,000 (visitors) range for quite a long time," Cobb said. "We have always recognized we wanted to bring this type of museum to another location. That's been our long-term strategy."

The Pearl's main focus in 2017 is on its current museum, including continued fundraising and expanding arts opportunities for the community.

The Pearl hosted a Sports Night at The Pearl fundraiser on Feb. 25, plans to hold a gala on April 8 and an afternoon tea in November.

The Pearl plans to continue its Pearlformances, offering music and theatre to the community several times a year in the main gallery of the museum.

In addition, The Pearl is on the search for a new director. Former director, Julia Bussinger, resigned in early December to lead a museum in Palm Springs, California.

Clara Lewis, the museum's director of development, is temporarily helping to lead the museum.

"We have a search committee put together to carefully select the new director," Cobb said. "The museum is in quite good shape right now. We're going to take time and be thoughtful."

The Pearl opened in 2008 and was created within the shell of Harris County's former Cypress Creek library, which closed when the 32,000-square-foot Barbara Bush Library opened next door.

In 2006, the Fincher Family Trust made a major donation to the Museum of Fine Arts, Cypress Creek in honor of their mother, Pearl, and the museum's official name was borne.

The Pearl is a smaller-scale version of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The two museums have a cooperative relationship, but the Cypress Creek museum is independent from the downtown facility.

 
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