January, 2013

As We Peer into the Future, We Say Farewell For Now to the “Eyes”

As We Peer into the Future, We Say Farewell For Now to the “Eyes”

“The eyes need to be removed so the building can be cleaned.”  My initial response was “Nooooooooooooooooooooo…not the eyes.”  Now, it’s not that I will be personally harmed by the removal, nor do I get a kick-back from any optical sponsors, but I do feel like it’s the end of an era.  I have plenty of blood, sweat, and tears invested in those giant baby blues. (I exaggerate only slightly.)

The eyes were added to the back of the museum in 2008 as the brain child of then-advertising consultant Dean Bastian (who now owns and operates Hard Knox Pizzeria) as part of a branding campaign and have become an iconic symbol in the World’s Fair Park area.  The tag line “Open Your Eyes, Open Your Mind” was created and was further enhanced by the eyes peering over World’s Fair Park. It was exciting and edgy – the building had become its own billboard. The eyes made an austere and aloof building friendly and approachable.  People commented that they felt the eyes were “following them” as they walked around the park below.  Some said it was a great landmark and helped when giving directions to people from out of town. “Look for the two giant eyes and turn left.”  Whatever the reason, the eyes became a comfort and a staple, and brought the otherwise non-descript back of the building to life.

My fondest memory of the eyes being installed was a funny one. (Or at least I could laugh about it after the fact.)  As the giant crane was hoisting the banners up and the multiple contractors were in the bucket working to attach them to the building, I decided to step out back to check on the progress.  As I looked up at the right eye, I thought something seemed odd.  Why was the tear duct on the outside corner of the eyes instead of on the inside?  Wait…oh no….the right eye has been installed on the wrong side.  So there I am, all 5 feet, 4 inches of me, waving my arms wildly and shouting up to the crane, “It’s on the wrong side! It’s on the wrong side!”  Yes, I can laugh about it now.

Once building renovations are complete, new eyes will once again adorn the back of the building, but they won’t be the same eyes as before.  I am already looking forward to the installation process and all the fun that will go along with it.

Change is good. The temporary absence of the eyes heralds a period of renewal and transformation as the KMA prepares for the opening of the Jolley installation in 2014.   Once the new eyes are up, we will all come to count on them as we did with the old ones.  I encourage everyone to keep a close watch on the museum and visit frequently to see all the exciting things the KMA has in store.  It promises to be an eye-opening experience!


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