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QCC gallery finally gets $5.1 million renovation

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After 36 years, Queensborough Community College’s Art Gallery in Bayside was expected to get a facelift — a big facelift.

A groundbreaking and private reception were expected to be held next week at the Bayside college to mark the $5.1 million renovation project for the gallery, which dates back to 1966. The work was slated to add about 1,000 square feet to the gallery’s size as well as a research gallery and a 40-seat theater.

Art Gallery and Community Outreach Director Faustino Quintanilla said the imminent reconstruction — which will restore the historic 1920’s Oakland Building in which the gallery is now housed — was a personal achievement.

“But I think it’s also about trying to give something to the community,” said Quintanilla, who has headed the gallery for about 10 years.

Laura Kotkin, QCC’s director of development, said fund-raising for the project was a long time in coming and next week’s reception would honor the politicians who helped make the renovation a reality.

“We’ll be here to honor the public officials that have helped put together the funding for this,” said Kotkin, who added that state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) and former Borough President Claire Shulman were big supporters.

The Oakland Building was once the clubhouse for the Oakland Golf Course where Queensborough was built, according to a news release from the college. Kotkin said the restoration project could allow the gallery to apply for museum status.

“It’s a pretty big project,” said Kotkin, who added that the new floors and humidity controls brought on by the renovation would help in the application for museum status. “We’re proud.”

Quintanilla, who said the renovation was expected to take two years, said the gallery’s large art collection worth about $15 million represented a number of artistic genres from 1957 on, including Latin American art and a growing collection of African art.

Establishing a significant collection of Latin American art was an important task for Quintanilla.

“Two-thirds of the population here in Queens speak Spanish,” he said.

While the gallery is closed for renovations, Quintanilla said it had arranged to hold exhibits with other galleries around the city.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Updated 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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