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The University's Institute of Contemporary Art last night opened its long-awaited gallery with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by many of the institute's major contributors. "This is a place that raises the human spirit," President Sheldon Hackney said at the ceremony. "It allows you to think and dream a little bit." Hackney was one of four speakers at the short ceremony. ICA Director Patrick Murphy, Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode and ICA Board Chaiperson Edna Tuttleman also gave thankful speeches to the 150 people in attendance. The building, which will open to the public on Saturday, is a spacious structure which architect Adele Naude Santos said was designed for versatility. She said the building is appropriate for a contemporary art museum -- which often houses abstract and unpredictable pieces -- because its rooms are each designed to contain different types of art. "[The new building] gives ICA a greater level of autonomy and fluctuation," Santos said. "It's a wonderful new phase for the ICA." Construction on the building began approximately eight months ago after several years of planning for the new museum. ICA shared space with the Graduate School of Fine Arts in Meyerson Hall for over 20 years but officials said the facilities were inadequate. ICA Associate Director Judith Tannenbaum said yesterday that the building has a "certain drama." She praised its great space and its "user-friendliness." "It's not fussy or overbearing," Tannenbaum said. And Director Murphy said the building was special because it provided the best of what is important in a gallery: proper space for art objects and proper space for people. This weekend's opening will be celebrated with local music, games and performances, as well as an architect's tour of the building on Sunday. The museum will open at noon on Saturday and Sunday, and admission is free.

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