Major Dixon expansion to open to the public May 4

By Published: May 02, 2019 5:53 PM CT
<strong>The Liz and Tommy Farnsworth Education Building opens to the public Saturday, May 4. The project is the first expansion of the Dixon Gallery &amp; Gardens since 1985.</strong> (Photo courtesy of Dixon Gallery &amp; Gardens)

The Liz and Tommy Farnsworth Education Building opens to the public Saturday, May 4. The project is the first expansion of the Dixon Gallery & Gardens since 1985. (Photo courtesy of Dixon Gallery & Gardens)

This week, the first expansion of Dixon Gallery & Gardens since 1985 will open to the public.

The $2.3 million Liz and Tommy Farnsworth Education Building will be open for games, demonstrations and performances during the Dixon's family day on Saturday. Museum admission is free for the event.

“Having a new building will be a game changer,” said director of education Margarita Sandino.

The 6,000-square-foot space includes indoor and outdoor classroom studios; a permanent interactive gallery space; offices for Dixon instructors, interns and education staff; a small greenhouse; and storage facilities. Memphis architect Brady Moore designed the new building; Grinder, Taber & Grinder, Inc. was the contractor. 

It's designed to help connect the museum and its garden programs, as a place for learning about the arts and nature, and to aid in community outreach. 

Sandino said the Dixon’s outreach programs are central to its mission. Instructors go to public, private and charter schools within a 30-mile radius, providing art classes about the museum’s collections and exhibitions or providing horticulture information. In the summer, staff members visit libraries and summer camps, as well as other organizations and about 10 community festivals annually.

For adults, there are senior art programs at library branches, as well as art therapy for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The museum is a donation drop-off site for Desayunos Con Libros (“Breakfast with Books”), a bilingual community event to promote reading that has collected coats and other items for Mariposas Collective, a volunteer group that aids asylum seekers that are passing through Memphis.

“It’s really important for us to connect with the Latino community,” Sandino said.

Dixon also partners with the University of Memphis art department for a free summer camp at the U of M, serving 120 children in the neighborhoods around the museum. The area schools primarily serve African-American and Latino students.

“This summer camp creates a sense of community,” Sandino said. Families come back for family day or exhibitions. "People start to think of the Dixon as their community museum."

The Farnsworths have supported the Dixon for more than 30 years, and Liz Farnsworth is on the museum’s board of directors.

“We feel like we’re making an investment that will endure for years to come,” Tommy Farnsworth said.

“We believe this facility will help many, many citizens of our community who would not otherwise have the opportunity to further their education in art.”


Dixon Gallery & Gardens Liz Farnsworth Tommy Farnsworth Margarita Sandino
Elle Perry

Elle Perry

Elle Perry covers arts and culture and other news for the Daily Memphian. She is a native of Memphis and a two-time graduate of the University of Memphis. Elle previously worked for the Memphis Business Journal and has written for publications including The Memphis Flyer and High Ground News.

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