An exhibition called Myth is the first thing you see when you walk into the Taubman Museum of Art. Huge letters stacked on top of one-another. It's the work of local artist Ann Glover.
"I wanted it to look like a giant child's play toy. And I wanted it to contain simple, elemental messages as well as more esoteric messages," said Glover.
The main lobby will almost always be home to the work of local artists. It's part of the plan to engage the community, by showing the talent of the region's best, and to make The Taubman the center of Roanoke's cultural universe.
"It's an amazing opportunity that I did not believe for a long time. This was beyond my comprehension to believe it was actually going to happen," said Glover.
Local art like Glover's – along with programs like the extremely popular Children's Art Venture area, along with the museum school for adult artists, entertainment and drinks for the weekly Thursday night live events and tying to local colleges – like this Roanoke College display in the resource lounge… all create points of contact between the museum and the public.
Ways to get people in the door and see the Taubman in a new light.
"I've to tempt ‘em to get here. And I'm down here and what I'd like them to do is have my everyday members -- the people who just want to come even once. To see this as a worthy important, cultural -- I say as the cultural heart of our region," said Della Watkins, Executive Director since February.
And building on those touch points is Regina Rodwell-Bell the new Deputy Director of Development and Marketing, who must raise over 2-million dollars annually to keep the museum running.
"I think it's very doable. I would not have come here if I did not feel that it was doable," said Rodwell-Bell.
Rodwell-Bell started in July, and says along with individual memberships, that corporate support will be critical to the museum's success.
Carlin: "You have to raise a lot of money."
Carlin: "Are there corporations that are willing to get in line as you said?"
Rodwell-Bell: "Oh I think so."
The Taubman's role in Roanoke goes beyond its day to day offerings. She says if companies want to attract talented employees, they will need to support local culture.
"They will come and they will look at the schools and the housing, but they will also look at the recreation and the community cultural arts organizations. And I think we bring something to the table," she said.
So, while Rodwell-Bell begins making overtures to local business leaders, the rest of the staff is busy making the museum relevant to day-to-day life in Roanoke…
And reaching out to artists like Glover, who in turn, teaches workshops and works in the community, working with everything else to create in the Taubman a cultural gravitational pull that gets stronger and stronger over time.
Carlin: "Is the community becoming more enlightened?"
Glover: "I think so. I think so. I think so..."