Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
Massachusetts, United States
The Harvard Art Museums is an institution that comprises three museums in Cambridge, MA, in the metropolitan area of Boston, all managed by Harvard University.
Building and site
Inaugurated in 2014, the main building of the Harvard Art Museum contains the collections of the Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, and Arthur M. Sackler Museum.
Located in the heart of the Harvard University campus, with main access from Quincy street, the complex comprises a Georgian-style building dating to 1927, which originally accommodated the Fogg Museum and a modern expansion designed by the famed Italian architect Renzo Piano.
What to see at the Harvard Art Museums
Each of the three Harvard Art Museums holds a collection focusing on a specific geographic area.
The collection of the Fogg Museum covers European and American art from the middle ages to the present day.
The Busch-Reisinger Museum is dedicated primarily to the art of Germany and Northern Europe.
The collection of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum comprises art pieces, especially antique artworks, from Asia and the Middle East.
The works of art exhibited at the three museums – including paintings, sculptures, architectural decorations, drawings, prints, photographs, coins, armor, and jewels – present collectively a varied set of techniques, cultural backgrounds, and periods of time.
Famous artists whose works are featured in the museums’ permanent exhibitions include Simone Martini, Fra Angelico, Albrecht Dürer, Sandro Botticelli, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Max Ernst, Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Ed Ruscha, Joseph Beuys, and Ai Weiwei, among many others.
The program of events and activities of the Harvard Art Museums includes special exhibitions, talks, conferences, education classes, and special events The campus of the Harvard Art Museums also accommodates an art study center, a research center, a cafe, and a book & gift shop.
Photo by Paul Geffen.
Harvard Art Museums’ renovation and expansion by Renzo Piano Building Workshop
The Harvard Art Museums is a world-renowned art institution, part of the Harvard University, which combines three art museums – the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum – under one roof.
The collections of the three museums, amounting to over 250,000 pieces altogether, are quite diverse and cover different forms of art, spanning in time from antiquity to the present day.
From ancient Greek canopies and sculptures to Italian Renaissance paintings, from Ming ceramics to modern art masterpieces by Picasso and Rothko, the collections provide a comprehensive outlook on art history.
Above, the Harvard Art Museums extension designed by Renzo Piano. Photo: Peter Vanderwarker
From top to bottom: Harvard Art Museums renovation and expansion project. Aerial by lesvants.com; Harvard Art Museums’ elevation view; The Harvard Art Museums’ new Prescott Street entrance and glass galleries, day and night views. Photos: Peter Vanderwarker
The $250-million renovation and expansion project of the Harvard Art Museums provides a unified framework for research, conservation, and exhibition activities, as well as supplying cutting-edge building technologies and increasing the exhibition space by over 40 percent, up to 43,000 square feet.
The project by Renzo Piano, inaugurated in November 2014, ingeniously copes with the existing Fogg Museum Georgian-style building, designed in 1927 by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbot architects, both by juxtaposing a new, clearly contemporary, expansion and by topping it and the original building’s Calderwood Courtyard with a pyramidal glass roof to create a covered plaza. as well as to visually unify the ensemble.
The original building was fully restored, and all post-1927 additions removed; the visual connection between the old and the new buildings has been resolved through a thin transparent joint, dubbed “the slot”.
From top to bottom: The new Harvard Art Museums. Photos: Peter Vanderwarker; Views of the “Slot” at the new Harvard Art Museums; new Harvard Art Museums cross-section, courtesy of RPBW
The glass roof that covers both buildings is actually a complex system designed to provide controlled natural lighting to the spaces underneath.
From top to bottom: The new addition. January 16, 2014. Photo: Harvard Art Museums; The glass-and-steel roof shading system, Photos: Harvard Art Museums; Shading systems at the Harvard Art Museums. Photos: Zak Jensen; The Calderwood Courtyard. January 30, 2014. Photo: Peter Vanderwarker
The museum expansion and renovation room program included a quite articulated set of spaces, composed of a new research facility – The Art Study Center, the already-mentioned Calderwood Courtyard – which is the core of the circulation system and also accommodates the museum’s shop and cafe, the Straus Center – a state-of-the-art conservation facility, seminar rooms, and lecture halls – including a 300-seat auditorium, a material lab, new exhibition galleries and a special exhibition space – the Lightbox Gallery – located just under the glass roof. The Lightbox Gallery is indeed a multi-media and interactive space, nested just under the impressive museum’s glass roof, where the Harvard Art Museums’ collections are presented to the public through cutting-edge digital technology and innovative means of communication.
From top to bottom: view of one of the museum’s exhibition galleries; two views of the Lightbox Gallery; photos by Harvard Art Museums
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