$196M Gehry-designed Philadelphia Museum of Art expansion kicks off
- Crews have broken ground on a $196 million, Frank Gehry-designed expansion and renovation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, according to the Curbed Philadelphia.
- The three-year overhaul is confined to the existing footprint but will carve out 90,000 square feet of public space — including 23,000 square feet of gallery area — and will restore the museum's 640-foot-long vaulted walkway, which has been closed to visitors since the 1960s.
- The project is part of a $525 million campaign to update the museum, offer more exhibits and programs and increase the facility's endowment. Officials said they have already raised $326 million, and the museum's first phase should be complete by 2020.
Like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, many museum expansions and renovations are part aesthetics and part restoration. Endowments and operating budgets are hard-pressed to keep pace with rising costs of maintenance and construction, so when the money comes available, the final allocation of funds tends to go toward a mix of cosmetic improvements and core upgrades that will extend the facility's life.
In the case of a planned $410 million renovation of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, however, the priority is on the preservation side. The 40-year-old museum is in a rundown state and the climate-sensitive exhibits are in danger of deterioration.
The scheduled work is extensive and will include replacement of the building's HVAC and stormwater systems and roof; a reduction in UV lighting; asbestos remediation; new outside shelters to help shield museum visitors from inclement weather and sun; new terrace landscaping; accessibility upgrades; and demolition and replacement of the worn "Tennessee Marble" exterior. Unlike the PMA, the Air and Space Museum must rely on federal funding.
Some resist these projects, however, based on the nature of the renovations themselves. The American Museum of Natural History revealed plans for a $325 million update with a 218,000-square-foot expansion that necessitates the demolition of three buildings and the use of a quarter-acre of the adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park. In an effort to reduce impact on park-goers, the height of the "Flintstone-like," Jeanne Gang-designed renovation will not pass the existing cornice line. The museum has also agreed to replace any trees or benches lost to construction.
- Associated Press Philadelphia Museum breaks ground on Gehry-led expansion
- Curbed Philadelphia Philadelphia Museum of Art breaks ground on Gehry’s core project
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