Building the new structure lasted longer than Brand's tenure at the top of the Los Angeles art world, but when the $150-million project opened May 1, it vaulted the VMFA into the nation's top 10 museums in enclosed space, top eight in permanent exhibition space and top four in outdoor exhibition space.

The airy, light-filled expanse was the first major U.S. commission for London-based, Oregon-born architect Rick Mather, who was acclaimed last fall for his expansion of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum in England. Sight lines stretch through 5,000 years of world art and into the neighborhoods of Richmond's Museum District.

The new limestone and glass exterior made room for new acquisitions, such as an exquisite Aesthetic Movement interior. Five Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs, said to be the largest public collection outside Russia, are among old favorites lovingly reinstalled.

Construction continues on the sculpture garden and on reinstallation of East Asian, Ancient, African and European galleries.

More than 70 works of "American Art From the McGlothlin Collection" will be on display in the new McGlothlin Wing only until July 18, though the collection will return later as a gift. German Expressionist Art from the newly acquired Fischer Collection also will go on hiatus then.

The first major exhibition in the McGlothlin Wing, "Tiffany: Color and Light," will run from May 29 to Aug. 15.