To the pounding sound of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," the curtains rose tonight on the new event pavilion at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown.
The curtains, rising slowly and evenly, revealed three 23-foot high glass walls overlooking a newly manicured sculpture garden and one of the museum's defining features – a stone wall of the former Bucks County Prison, dating to 1884.
"The 19th century wall speaks to the 21st century glass, and the glass now speaks to the stone, and the two have a wonderful conversation with the gardens on either side," architect James Timberlake said during the dedication ceremonies for the Edgar N. Putman Event Center.
About 150 supporters of the museum got the first public look at the $5 million addition, joined by politicians, staff members, and the pavilion's designers and builders. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were served before and after a few brief speeches, and guests marveled at the sparkling addition.
They also strolled through the redesigned Patricia D. Pfundt Sculpture Garden and the museum's art galleries.
The 2,700-suare-foot pavilion is named for longtime museum benefactor Edgar Putman, thanks to a "seven-figure gift" by his son and daughter-in-law, Kevin and Paula Putman.
"Knowing how much my father liked a good party, and seeing this, I'm certain this would be his favorite venue for an event," said Kevin Putman, chairman of the museum's board of directors.
The pavilion will be used for museum events such as lectures and Jazz Nights. And it will provide revenue from private events such as wedding receptions and bar and bat mitzvahs. It can seat about 200 people.
It couldn't have been built, museum director Bruce Katsiff said, without the help of state Sen. Chuck McIlhenny, who lined up $2 million from Harrisburg for the project.
Paula Putman struck a gong, cuing Wagner's music, and the curtains rose on a new era for the Michener Museum.