For the past two years, the Gibbes Museum of Art has been closed to the public while it went through a $13.5 million renovation. But on May 28, the Gibbes will reopen, revealing a building with 30 percent more exhibit space and a totally redesigned first floor.

The first floor, which restores the lines of the original 1905 Beaux Arts floor plan, now functions as a creative gathering place for the community. It features a café, gift shop, classrooms and studios with large interior windows that invite visitors to watch artists at work.

A reception area in the rear is ideal for lectures and special events. The museum opens with two special exhibits. Beyond Catfish Row: the Art of Porgy and Bess coincides with the production of Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess at this year’s Spoleto Festival USA. On display will be interpretations of Porgy and Bess by visual artists through the years. Among them: George Biddle, original illustrator of the 1935 libretto and Kara Walker, who illustrated the 2013 version.

The Things We Carry: Contemporary Art in the South is a response to last year’s Emanuel AME Church shooting. Artists were selected from past finalists and winners of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Curator of exhibitions Pam Wall says each artist “deals with the history of the South—some in direct, some in more subtle ways.” gibbesmuseum.org, 843-722-2706.

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