Creating spaces to welcome guests of all ages and distinguished display galleries for many of the Museum's renowned collections have been foremost in the planning process. Unique characteristics celebrating and supporting education were also deemed critical. All visitors will enter through a monumental portico and vestibule into the central atrium. From there they can access the Café, or galleries devoted to African Art, and European and American Art of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Additionally, this floor features two dedicated educational spaces. The innovative Teaching Gallery is specifically designed for co-curricular displays requested by Notre Dame faculty. The Learning Commons will meet the needs of the legions of K-12 students who visit the Museum every year.
The second floor is rich in display space for both the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. Galleries devoted to Mesoamerican and Native Art adjoin to create a focus on “Art of the Americas.” Spaces featuring the Fifteenth through Seventeenth-Century collections wrap around much of the south and east sides. The entire north end of this floor is devoted to a temporary exhibition gallery to host the Museum's acclaimed changing exhibition program. The third floor is largely an educational space for both university students and the regional K-12 community. There will be state- of-the-art studios as well as offices and gathering spaces for the Museum's Education staff, student workers, and gallery teachers. The Friends office will complete this level.
The lower level of the Museum will be open and spacious. Galleries devoted to Modern and Contemporary Art will be a highlight for the public. Back-of-house areas critical to the function and safety of the museum will be accessible to staff only. Much-needed and long-awaited areas for shipping and receiving, exhibition preparation, and temporary storage are important areas on this level. Long-term storage, including that of the Museum's celebrated collection of prints, drawings, and photographs, and most of the Museum's personnel will remain at the current facility until Phase Two is realized.