When Lisa Dent became the associate curator of contemporary art at the Columbus Museum of Art in spring 2009, she was enthusiastic about the chance to give visitors a new perspective on the art.

When Lisa Dent became the associate curator of contemporary art at the Columbus Museum of Art in spring 2009, she was enthusiastic about the chance to give visitors a new perspective on the art.

So with the museum's 2011 renovations - a total reinvigoration involving new lighting, remodeled decor and the unveiling of work that hasn't been on display in a while - Dent decided to present contemporary art in a way that's both more accessible and more informative.

She integrated the museum's contemporary art into spaces housing work from other periods, and you'll find modern pieces next to mannerist, Renaissance and impressionist ones.

"[Visitors] will be surprised by how much they can learn about those objects because now they're next to something they've never been next to before," Dent said. "They're seeing it in a different context and learning something new about the relationships between works in the collection that they may have not recognized before."

A perfect example is the Monet-inspired gallery, Monet and Friends, where the relationship between the contemporary and older works enhances the experience of viewing them.

In that gallery you'll find impressionist works, but you might be surprised by the presence of modernist Edna Andrade's work. You shouldn't be, Dent says, because Andrade was inspired by the same 19th-century theory on optics that influenced many impressionists.

By integrating contemporary art in with other works, Dent is able to accomplish one of her biggest goals - not talking about contemporary artists in a vacuum.

"It's always been important for me to discuss the historical context these objects are in to present challenging, sometimes difficult-to-understand work to the community in a way that could be engaging and fun and informative," Dent said.

So Dent, the museum's other curators and educational staff worked cooperatively and diligently to identify connections and come up with the nonlinear format you'll seen in the reinstallation.

"We were really riffing off each other and thinking about what happens before influences, what happens after," Dent said. "It's really helpful to connect to historical ideas by connecting with something that's part of their life right now and are more familiar with."