Don’t get me wrong, I love my Matisses and Giacomettis, and who can’t stand in awe of El Greco or Rubens? Even the BMA’s Oceania exhibit is enough to put it on most art enthusiasts’ radars. (Those crazy little masks? You know you’ve always wanted to try one on.) But whenever I feel the urge to be there, it’s images of Rothko and DeKooning that pull me in. So it was an ugly surprise the last time I visited the Baltimore Museum of Art and found out that the Contemporary and Modern American sections have been closed for renovations.

The missing work is a gaping hole in Baltimore’s art-museum world. The BMA’s contemporary collection is the only one of its kind in Baltimore — we’ve now got to travel all the way to D.C. to find a Pollock or a Barnett Newman on view. That might raise some concerns about Baltimore’s proud position in the national art community, but I’m still basically just mad that I don’t get to lose myself in Rothko’s color washes.

Thankfully, though, Baltimore doesn’t have much longer to wait.  The contemporary wing renovation, part of a larger renovation process set to finish in time for the BMA’s 100-year anniversary (2014), will re-open fall of this year.

(See pictures from behind the scenes of the renovation.)

A recent BMA newsletter announced the wing will open its doors on November 17, and feature a number of new additions, like architectural renovations by artist Sarah Oppenheimer, which will connect the BMA’s Modern and Contemporary collections “through meticulously crafted sculptural forms placed in the floor, ceiling, and walls.”

Other highlights the newsletter mentions are:

  • An exhibition of eight large-scale color photographs by South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa.
  • An exhibition of drawings by artists including Lee Bontecou, Philip Guston, and James Rosenquist.
  • A new site-specific work by acclaimed Baltimore street artist Gaia. (The guy responsible for Station North’s Open Walls program.)

All in all, the BMA is shelling out $24.5 million for the renovation. Let’s just hope they keep the Rothkos up.