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San Antonio's renovated Central Library will reopen on April 1

Jack Morgan
The library's new paint job

For three years, San Antonio’s Central Library downtown has been mostly closed and shrouded because of the COVID-19 pandemic and construction work.

Now, three entire floors have seen major renovations. Visitors have patiently waited to see how their library has been transformed.

On April 1, the shrouds are lifted ... and the wait is over.

The Central Library — an enchilada red Mexican Modernist building — is one of downtown’s most eye-catching structures. Haley Holmes works there as a public services administrator.

“The whole outside of the library was repainted. So everyone has been able to enjoy that part of the construction project,” Holmes said. “But it'll be great to bring everyone inside to see what's new.”

She says that the entrance has only changed in one way: a cover between the garage and the front door will keep patrons dry on rainy days.

They also took down the enormous circulation desk. It was so high that some staff were nearly hidden by it.

“When you come in you can see the staff and they're there to welcome people into the space,” she said.

Off to the right will be the Art Walk, one of the redesigned areas. And it will contain much of the library’s art.

enormous Dale Chihuly sculpture
Jack Morgan
enormous Dale Chihuly sculpture

“We have some pretty spectacular pieces in the central library, so I definitely think that people this is going to be a destination for art as well as literature,” Holmes said.

With works by Botero, Chihuly and the lateJesse Treviño, it’s worth a trip downtown just to see them.

“Since we're going to have a new space for art and we are borrowing some pretty significant pieces, including Jessie Trevino's Mi Vida, she said. “We expect even more people to come to this library just to view the art.”

Mi Vida was Treviño’s breakthrough piece, showing that he had talent in his left arm after he lost his right arm. It was removed after he was wounded in the Vietnam War.

the library's south side, and grounds
Jack Morgan
the library's south side, and grounds

The origins of the library renovation was a bond issue.

“The 2017 bond primarily covered changing the first floor to make it more welcoming, as well as a complete overhaul of our third floor, which is the children's library,” Holmes said.

That third floor has been completely reimagined.

“On the third floor, we really wanted to create a world class destination for youth. And so we're adding age appropriate learning environments, including an early literacy play area,” she said. “So we want kids and their caregivers to come in and to work together in imaginative play, to learn and to have fun.”

the children's area
Jack Morgan
the children's area

There will be a grand reopening at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 1, with activities all day long.

“Including musical performances, refreshments, crafts and passports so that people can experience our new spaces,” she said. “They'll move around and get stamps on their passport and then get a prize when they complete the activity.”

The grand reopening party, like the library itself, is free.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii