Mayor Paul Soglin and Chancellor David Ward invited the public into the newly expanded Chazen Art Museum Saturday with a ceremonial grand opening, music and guided tours.
The 86,000 square foot expansion doubles the amount of art the museum can hold, and currently features watercolor paintings by artist Sean Scully and pieces from Jerome and Simona Chazen's personal collection.
Soglin said the museum serves as a reminder of why people appreciate the arts.
""[Most importantly] we learn about ourselves … and the people with whom we share space,"" he said. ""This is a marvelous space to do that.""
Ward said the museum is also a symbol of the Wisconsin Idea.
""The generosity of the Chazens and so many other people have created an institutional fixture, a beautiful space right here in the university that we will all value,"" Ward said.
After the extension's construction blocked off large sections of East Campus mall, UW-Madison student Jennie LaCourt said she thinks the museum enhances campus.
""I'm really excited about how campus looks now that all the construction is done,"" said LaCourt. ""The architecture of the new part is awesome, and I think it's brightening up the area.""
Other students said they were simply happy to see construction end.
""I'm thrilled, first of all, just being able to walk under the archway,"" said student Michael Kushner. ""Now that I'm actually inside, it blows me away.""
Junior Art History student Laura Dreischmeier said the museum adds incentive to visit Madison and prestige to the university by housing the second-largest art collection in Wisconsin.
""It creates a place for all students to experience artwork up close and free of charge,"" said Dreishmeier.
As an art student, Dreischmeier said she values seeing artwork up close and being able to examine old pieces in the extension's study rooms.
""You can experience art in relation to your body, and the fine details or multiple views can't always be shown in online images,"" she said.
Kushner, LaCourt and Dreischmeier, said any student, regardless of major, can appreciate the museum.
""Even if you don't have a formal art background, anyone can appreciate the beauty of the architecture,"" Dreischmeier said.