“The courtyard is really the emotional and symbolic heart of the museum. And with the new glass structure above, it will become what Renzo calls ‘the light machine,’ with controlled natural light funneling through it and diﬀusing through the adjoining spaces.” —Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director
In addition to the existing entrance on Quincy Street, the building will have a new public entrance on Prescott Street; both will lead visitors into the courtyard. A café and a museum shop on the ﬁrst ﬂoor will provide comfortable places to relax, and a large central stairway and new elevators will oﬀer quick and easy access to the ﬁve ﬂoors of public space.
The iconic Italian Renaissance Calderwood Courtyard, with its arcades of travertine marble, was modeled on the façade of the 15th-century Canon’s House of the Church of San Biagio in Montepulciano, Italy. Architects Coolidge, Shepley, Bulﬁnch & Abbott replicated the Canon’s House façade to form an interior square suggesting the central court of a Tuscan palazzo. The Calderwood Courtyard has been the scene of many openings, balls, dinners, and other celebrations.
The renovation and expansion project designed by Renzo Piano preserves both the design of the historic courtyard and its function as the center of activity and circulation. Great care has been taken to maintain the condition of the travertine façades. The design opens up all of the courtyard’s ground-ﬂoor arcades, allowing visitors to move freely through the new facility, from galleries in the original Fogg Museum structure to the Busch-Reisinger and Sackler galleries in the new addition.
Exhibition space will increase by 40%, including far more space for temporary exhibitions and for curricular galleries whose use is planned by students and faculty. Curricular galleries will present a forum where exhibition making can be taught and where students and emerging scholars can be trained in art history, visual thinking, curatorial practice, and conservation science.
Only a small percentage of the Harvard Art Museums’ collections can be displayed in public gallery spaces at any given time. An important element in our new facility at 32 Quincy Street will be three art study centers providing access to thousands of art objects held in storage. Within the art study centers an area will be set up for each of the three museums—the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger, and the Sackler—to oﬀer students, faculty, and other visitors a suitable environment for the close examination of original works. Seminar rooms in the complex will be available for faculty-guided group learning.
Visitors will also have access to a user-friendly database of works for personal study, as well as an innovative web-based learning resource that will acquaint them with investigative methods for exploring original works of art. Drawing on these resources and the assistance of study center staﬀ and Art Museums curators, visitors will select works of art to be delivered for examination. Under supervision, they will be encouraged to handle these works and analyze and appreciate them from multiple perspectives, investigating their physical properties, techniques, subjects, formal elements, styles, provenance, and the historical contexts in which they were produced. These dynamic explorations will be supported by ready access to the Art Museums’ archives, as well as to its collections of artists’ tools and materials.
The uppermost level of the new building will oﬀer light-ﬁlled space for the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the oldest ﬁne arts conservation treatment, research, and training facility in the United States and one of the world’s leading laboratories for conservation and conservation science.
Education and special-event spaces will include a lower lobby, a 300-seat theater, classrooms, and a public education room, all of which can be utilized for evening programming after the galleries have closed.