WSSU's Diggs Gallery to Undergo Major Renovations

December 13, 2012
For the first time since it opened in 1990, the Diggs Gallery on the campus of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) will undergo major renovations designed to improve its ability to attract new exhibits and increase its impact on education.

The project, which will exceed $200,000, began in November and it is anticipated that the renovations will be completed the spring of 2013.

Artist's Rendering of Renovated Diggs Gallery "We are delighted that we are finally able to pursue some significant upgrades to the facility and much credit goes to Provost Brenda Allen for jumpstarting our recession-stalled renovation plans," said Belinda Tate, director of the gallery.  "We will be adding advanced security cameras and improved lighting which will have a tremendous impact on the caliber of works we will be able to attract for the university’s permanent collection and temporary exhibitions which can help grow our relevance to a larger art universe.  Plus, we will be able to continue to provide audiences with exhibits that run the gamut from traditional to cutting edge."

"Studying original works of art at Diggs Gallery is a vital component of the WSSU liberal arts experience," said Allen.  "As we celebrate the university’s 120th anniversary, I think the renovation of Diggs Gallery represents a cherished gift to our campus and the Winston-Salem community.  The improved quality of the gallery space will certainly enhance how exhibits are viewed and increase appreciation of the incredible works of art always found on exhibit at Diggs."

The renovations are designed to create a fresh look for Diggs and one that is different from other galleries in the area.  While a new climate control system was added more than 10 years ago, the gallery has continued with its black ceiling and outdated lighting.  When the renovations are complete, the gallery will have an espresso-colored engineered hardwood floor, refurbished walls, and a lighter ceiling to create the look of a more open and contemporary art space.  In addition to the work in the gallery, a conference room wall will be removed to create more reception space and there will be new carpet in the hallway.

"Diggs is such a unique space as a gallery, a teaching venue and a learning center that we wanted it to have a unique look," Tate added.  "We had to consider how colors and textures would affect visitors' perceptions of the space and of the exhibits.  We also wanted the space to continue to be useful for educational forums, community celebrations, student recitals and campus events.  It must be a welcoming, elegant and still comfortable space that remains flexible enough to serve the needs of a variety of artistic genre and a multiplicity of audiences.

Kolin Robinson, a fine arts major who graduated in 2012, was pleased to see the university investing in the gallery.

"During my collegiate career at Winston-Salem State, Diggs introduced me to phenomenal works of various African and African American art," Robinson said.  "I was not only inspired by the cultural richness, but students like me could always find a sense of home there.  As a young artist, I aspire to one day leave my mark and contribute to the culture by having my works exhibited in institutions that have a great reputation like Diggs Gallery."

Beyond just the changes to the space, the gallery is documenting its entire collection to identify additional objects that can be used in WSSU public spaces and classrooms.  The goal is to make artwork more accessible for faculty and for students through the Internet and more visible outside of the gallery walls.

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