Gallery Renovations in Progress

Gallery Renovations in Progress

We have been working long and hard to build the museum of our dreams. What started out as the dream of our founders Heather Kahn and Kristina Skillin, has been shaped by a community of artists, beaders, hobbyists, as well as city code compliance. 

In this blog post we will continue to update you on our renovation progress, so please check back often to see what new projects we have accomplished. Newest posts at the top, oldest posts at the bottom.



May 3rd, 2023



We have our Certificate of Occupancy!!! 

Our bathrooms are complete; all the plumbing, buildout, electric, flooring, sprinklers, and everything else is done! 




Next for the gallery is to mud, sand, prime, and paint the walls, add baseboard trim, and then all the exhibition installation, lighting, signage, and the finishing touches that will make our space ready for you, our community. 



April 1st, 2023




The new bathrooms are in a large rectangle located between the Caravan office and the Museum gallery. Inside the bathrooms, there is now a middle wall completely separating the two bathrooms! It’s full of plumbing (now inspected) insulation, and steel framing. Caravan has had to move their office for the duration of the install and we are so grateful to them for going through the headache of rearranging themselves to help us get this project complete.



The plumbing is done save the fixtures. The electrician and sprinkler people have come and gone, passed inspection, and left us with new lights, ventilation, and sprinklers in both rooms making sure our new spaces are safe and fire code compliant.
Matt from Caravan has tiled the floor himself (saving us a few grand) and done an excellent job. Wide gray, ceramic, rectangles set off 1 third. Simple and classic and very durable. Thank you Matt! 


The walls have also been primed and painted both inside and out, and just need baseboard trim. Next up is fixtures (toilets, sinks), dispensers, and final inspection!

We are so close and we want to thank everyone who has helped, supported, and donated to getting this renovation completed. We still have a matching campaign underway, so feel free to donate today here!



March 15th, 2023


What a month! Internal plumbing is all but done, meaning all the pipes in the floor and walls are set but fixtures haven’t been installed yet.

Turns out there are many inspections involved in new plumbing going in. Fortunately we have passed all inspections without issue, so it’s been smooth sailing in that respect.



The floor was piped out, passed inspection, then the cement was poured and needed time to cure. Next, the wall framing was put in and pipes were added connecting drains, sinks, and all that. Inspection passed there too. Some electric was run before the walls were sheetrocked over, and the second door was cut and both doors were hung. After that a small hot water heater was fit into the space between the bathroom ceiling and the roof of the building and all that passed inspection as well! 



We had a few short stretches of illness slowing things down a bit, but things are progressing more and more every day. Up next: Insulating and sheetrocking the middle wall, mudding the exterior wall that faces the offices, sanding all the exterior walls to prep for painting, tiling the floors, running the final electric, installing sprinklers and lights, and finally installing the actual bathroom fixtures. Then there’s painting and probably several other things we can’t think of at the moment. We’re getting so close!



We are also running a matching campaign right now sponsored by Caravan Beads for up to $10,000 in matched funding. This money will help us finish up all the rest of our renovations quickly and get our gallery doors open as soon as possible. Donations can be made here.


January 18th & February 1st, 2023


Construction on the bathroom renovation has finally started!



Like in many cities, the pandemic created a construction boom in Portland. We reached out to dozens of individuals and companies starting in 2021, but reliable contractors have been few and far between with waitlists stretching on for months to over a year. In short, it has been an ongoing process for much longer than anyone could have imagined.


But now, we have a contractor we are very happy with and work has started!



Walls are being taken down, floors are being pulled up, and doors are being moved around! We have a worst case/best case timeline that we are working with, but will wait to announce any opening dates until the bathrooms are completed, inspected, and signed off on.


Once they are done, we still have a list of things to complete like lighting, painting, finishing work, building cases, and then building and putting together all the exhibitions our Director/Curator has in the works. Donations to our general fund can be made here.  




Feb 1st

Framework and walls are up! We also had 4 interior windows that have been removed and filled which will allow the Gallery better control over lighting. 



Plumbing is currently underway. To do this they’ll need to cut and remove a large section of cement from the floor, lay new pipework and connect it to the existing plumbing, have the city inspect, and then re-pour the cement. 



We are pleased and excited with the progress and will keep posting as we have updates!



June 25th, 2022:


Cases! We have our first 5 cases finished, custom made just for the Museum of Beadwork by the amazing Nick Heller (who is also an incredible bead artist, see his work over at We have many more cases to build and will be running a fundraiser to reach this goal in the near future. 



As of now, these 5 cases are full of beadwork and ready for viewing at our Sneak Peek Exhibition in the Caravan Beads Retail store. This exhibition is made up of part of our annual Beadwork Challenge, as well as examples from our permanent collection that have been kindly donated by artists and collectors. 

You can view it in person on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30am to 4:30pm. We will also be holding First Friday events on the first Friday of the month from 5pm to 8pm. Admission is free, but donations are always appreciated. 



Our gallery space is still in a holding pattern waiting for the construction of our 2 new bathrooms. Since this particular renovation will include the demolition of walls and jackhammering of concrete flooring, we will wait until completion before we move onto the lighting, painting, finishing work, or any mounting of permanent displays that could be damaged by the renovation. 

We have finally tracked down several contractors to view the space and will be receiving quotes from them hopefully this week. 


Stay tuned as we update this process and in the meantime, come see our Sneak Peek Exhibit!



September 14th update:


Our floor is done! We are incredibly grateful (and very satisfied) with the work done by Reliance Concrete Polishing of Exeter, NH in refinishing and giving new life to our concrete floors.


We chose an onyx stain which provides our floors with a darker gray tone under the high polish. Our walls will be similarly painted in shades of dark gray to provide a setting for the lighting of the gallery to focus attention on the objects and art on display. 


This new floor will now withstand heavy foot traffic, as well as cases, exhibits, and renovation materials being moved across them for many many years to come. We are so pleased with the outcome and can’t wait to show it off once we are finally open!




August 25th, 2021:

As some of you may know, the space we have been granted by Caravan Beads was in fact their old retail bead store. The space is roughly 2,500 sq. feet, give or take, and a most… interesting… shade of pale purple. Fortunately, that last part is going to change.

We started by clearing the room of more than a decade of storage of various items left from use as a store, office, sewing studio, and occasional music practice room.

The vestibule, which juts out 8 feet into the room, was constructed when the original function of the building was a used car sales center.  It is not easily removable and so our layout needed to be made around it. We intend to make this the official entrance into the gallery.

Our first bit of demolition came when we tore down the pegboard and removed the last remaining fixtures of the old retail bead store. 


We have been meeting with the architect, and contractors to discuss flooring, painting, electric, and climate control systems. Our director Kristina made a model of the empty space so we could start planning our layout. 

We knew from the beginning that we wanted to make as few permanent builds as possible, giving us the option to continually create new spaces with cases and exhibition partitions rather than immovable walls. 

We replaced a single door with a double door as we had already received artwork that was too large to physically move into the gallery space. Installing the door has also made other renovations of the space much easier as we can now get larger equipment into the space as well. 

We are about to complete the refinishing of the floor. It was painted concrete with years of scuffs, scratches, stains, and peeling portions all over. We received several quotes for different refinishing options and selected Reliance Concrete Polishing, located in nearby Exeter, NH. They have already ground, filled, and sanded the surface and are just applying a dark grey stain before buffing it to a high polish. We are delighted by the work so far as well as the very conscientious and professional attitudes of all their employees.

We continue to apply for grants and individual funding to complete all the renovations. We are well on our way, but have recently been dealt a setback. According to updates in the State of Maine Plumbing Code, we will now need to install two additional bathrooms and our fundraising to this point has not included this scale of construction. We are initiating a 2 month campaign to try and raise $30,000 for the new bathrooms, please consider donating here.


Our next steps include priming and painting the walls, building the cases, and addressing general lighting and electrical needs. We’re making progress and every day we are taking steps forward to get our space ready for visitors. Check back for more updates or join our newsletter to learn when we have posted something new!


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  • Heather Kahn
Comments 5
  • Betty Doyle
    Betty Doyle

    Do you have photos of the beaded stars? Are they hung up yet?
    Thank you.

  • Michèle Grosse
    Michèle Grosse

    Merci beaucoup pour tous ces détails sur l’évolution de votre chantier ! Bravo :)
    Bonne énergie pour tout ce qu’il vous reste à faire !
    Je consulte avec intérêt votre blog et votre page Facebook depuis la France… et j’ai hâte de voir l’installation des carrés perlés et de l’exposition.
    Bien à vous !

  • Beatriz

    Terrific!! Congratulations!

  • Tana Fileccia-Flagg
    Tana Fileccia-Flagg

    Great progress!! Thank you for the updates. Please plan to stream your opening for those of us who are unable to attend! I’m looking forward to viewing the beaded squares installation!

  • Kat bunker
    Kat bunker

    Are the Beaded Squares going to be a permanent exhibit on the walls ?

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