Transforming the Postal Plaza: “Genus Genius” Reception and Demolition

Last Wednesday night, we held the public reception for the student exhibition, Genus Genius, at the Postal Plaza. Over a hundred people came out to see work by thirty students that was slated to be destroyed the very next morning. Demolition of the Postal Plaza, which is being transformed into a downtown gallery and storage space for the OSU Museum of Art, began on schedule Thursday morning, and museum staff were on hand to record the last moments of Genus Genius and the first steps toward the rebirth of the Postal Plaza. Here’s the whole story, in pictures (click the images to enlarge):

Prof. Liz Roth's Drawing II students put their exhibition information directly on the walls in the Postal Plaza lobby; we're all set for our guests to arrive.

A view into "Momento Mori," an installation based on drawings done in the OSU Zoology Dept's Vertebrate Collection, moments before the reception began.

Prof. Angie Piehl's Advanced Drawing students tied their individual projects together with a postal-themed yarn drawing—and invited reception guests to participate in writing a chalkboard-style "postcard."

The students who collaborated on Safari Surroundings incorporated actual zoological specimens into their display.

Although people began trickling in as early as 6:30, the reception officially began at 7pm. As darkness fell, the lights in the Postal Plaza encouraged people to make their way inside.

The historic features of the building—including the facade, some interior details, and the Grace Hamilton mural—will be preserved by architects Rand Elliott and Associates. The stylized eagle above the door is an iconic example of 1930s modernist design.

By 7:30 or so, there was quite a crowd.

The students responsible for the Herpetarium also incorporated zoological specimens—and exploited the architectural features of the building to shape their visitors' experience.

Remember the postcard? By the end of the night, it was filled with drawings by people who had accepted the students' invitation.

Thursday morning, bright and early, Manhattan Construction Co. was supervising the preliminary demolition of the Postal Plaza's interior. They started by removing the drop ceilings and wall trims.

When I arrived at the Postal Plaza early on Friday morning, most of the drawings were still intact—but signs of demolition abounded.

As workers remove the drop ceilings, a dramatically different space begins to emerge.

The "safari" becomes a jungle of wires and aluminum framing.

The architects' demolition plans give careful instructions about what to preserve and protect as this first phase goes forward—but I still have a hard time envisioning the end result!

As demolition continues, we’ll be sure to keep you updated. And thanks to all of you who came out last Wednesday to support our students! If you took the opportunity to sign up for our mailing list at the reception, you’ll be first in line for announcements about future events and tours of the construction as it progresses—and if you didn’t, there’s still time! Just email us and we will add you to the list. You can also follow the progress of the Postal Plaza, see more photos of this event, and get news about exhibitions at the Gardiner Gallery by visiting our Facebook page.

Photos in this post were taken by Jean Longo, Shawn Yuan, and Louise Siddons.



About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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