Soon Lorain County residents will be able to see world-renowned artists’ work again without traveling to New York or even Cleveland. The Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) at Oberlin College is reopening in 2011 after an $11.23 million renovation.

AMAM now has new mechanical and fire suppression systems and expanded art storage. The galleries have also been re-lit and re-painted. But improving the interior of the museum wasn’t the only goal. The museum has a wealth of resources for K-12 teachers and welcomes school visits, even providing funding for busing through grants whenever possible.

Established in 1917, the AMAM has long been an important part of Oberlin’s campus. It’s ranked as one of the top-five college and university art museums in the country, but it doesn’t just serve as a museum — students can borrow works of art to study or even serve as docents to help educate visitors about the collection.

As on the rest of Oberlin’s campus, sustainability has been an important part of the renovation project. AMAM will seek LEED Gold certification for its improved building. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) serves as a third-party program which can certify that green buildings achieve high standards in sustainable practices.

“Oberlin is really trying to make sure that all of the projects we put into place really respect the environment. It’s this campus-wide, and even town-wide, realization that in small ways, you can start having a larger impact,” explains Stephanie Wiles, John G. W. Cowles director.

Over Oberlin’s Commencement/Reunion Weekend (May 27 to May 30), the museum will open its doors for the first time since early 2010. “We would like to have something on view for the people who come back to campus,” says Wiles.

Then the museum will close its doors over the summer to fully reinstall its collection for this Fall.