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As Reston art gallery Tephra ICA turns 50, fundraising for new location begins

The exhibit “Choosing to Portage” is currently on display at Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston (photo by Vivian Doering)

More changes may be on the horizon for Reston’s Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, following a brand and name change in recent years.

The institute — which was founded in 1974 as the Greater Reston Arts Center by local artists and residents — is actively fundraising for a new home in Reston as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

“Armed with a clear vision of the type of space we will need to house Tephra ICA for the next 50 years, the funds we raise today will help us begin the design and procurement process when the site for that new home is identified,” Sofia Blom, Tephra’s senior manager of gallery and communications, told FFXnow by email.

The institute has launched a “Tephra ICA at 50” capital campaign to raise $300,000.

According to Blom, Tephra hasn’t determined what it will do with the current space in Reston Town Center once it moves to a new location. The existing facility at 12001 Market Street, Suite 103, is owned by the gallery and was secured 20 years ago through a condition, or proffer, from town center developer Boston Properties.

The current facility requires improvements like exterior signage to prominently identify the space, along with enhanced visibility, accessibility accommodations, and information technology and audio visual upgrades to accommodate digital, film and media artwork, according to Tephra.

“We have been creative in pushing our current facility beyond its limits to present the ambitious exhibitions and programs we have hosted the past several years,” Blom wrote. “But to reach remaining unfulfilled goals, we eventually will need a new and expanded facility that offers capacity/capability we cannot secure in our current space.”

In the long term, Tephra hopes to secure accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, a national organization that provides resources and serves as an advocacy group for museums and their workers.

To achieve that milestone, Tephra ICA will need to get a centralized, 24-hour temperature and humidity control system, UV-filtered window systems and an automated light level system that Blom says are not possible in the current space.

The timeline of the project depends on the outcome of the fundraising campaign. Discussions are underway with developers on securing a possible new space.

“We are currently planting seeds and preparing for the future but we are several years away from moving into a new facility,” Blom said.