HARTFORD, CT.- The Wadsworth Atheneum
announced the commencement of its highly anticipated renovation project, which will yield 8,000 square feet of refurbished gallery space in anticipation of the complete reinstallation of the museum’s permanent collection. The project is slated to be completed by the end of 2011.
The Wadsworth Atheneum is America first public art museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its five separate, but contiguous buildings were built over the span of 125 years. The renovation will address roof leakage problems and façade issues with the museum’s Morgan, Avery and Goodwin buildings, which date from 1910, 1934 and 1969 respectively.
In addition to addressing structural issues, the renovation will also improve the overall visitor experience by providing a 14% increase in available gallery space, which will be home to both permanent collection installations and special exhibitions. A major component of the restoration project will be the re-opening of the light monitors in the Morgan Building, which will bring natural light into the upper galleries.
New interior and exterior signage, including bi-lingual signage, will better direct visitors to the museum and throughout its historic interiors, as well as provide increased interaction. In addition, the museum will be working with an internationally renowned artist to create an art installation on the exterior of the building.
Significant energy savings as a result of mechanical improvements to the HVAC system and two green roof areas will be additional benefits, while also reducing the museum’s operating costs.
“This renovation is not an expansion,” said Susan L. Talbott, Director, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. “It’s an important first step in our strategy of preserving and conserving the museum’s renowned collections for future generations and ensuring that we continue to be a good steward of our existing historic facilities.”
“We will remain open during the renovation and are in the midst of planning a number of exciting exhibitions that will bring some of the world’s greatest art to Hartford. These include our current exhibition, Reunited Masterpieces: From Adam & Eve to George & Martha, a special exhibition of Monet’s most important water lily paintings next fall and an Andrew Wyeth show which will re-assess this artist’s long career and center around our Chambered Nautilus,” Talbott continued.
The majority of the $16 million dollar project cost is funded through a $15 million grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development; a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and an $183,000 grant from the Mortensen Foundation.
The architect for the project is the Hartford-based firm of SmithEdwards Architects, and the construction manager is Consigli Construction Co., Inc., which has offices in Enfield. Both firms were selected for their expertise in architectural restoration and their ability to solve complex infrastructural issues while maintaining a site’s historical integrity. Examples of other important heritage landmarks these firms have worked on include; Trinity College’s Long Walk, the Old State House, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art’s Walker Art Building, and the New York State Capitol restoration. Alan Barton, Director of Facilities, is managing the project for The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
As part of the construction process, there will be a temporary inconvenience to visitors of the adjacent Alfred E. Burr Memorial or the ‘Burr Mall’ as it is commonly known. Due to construction staging activity on the north side of the Mall, access will be somewhat restricted and will necessitate the removal of the current trees and landscaping. The Wadsworth is working in close cooperation with Burr Mall and will restore and replant the affected area at the conclusion of the renovation project. Several of the affected trees will be transplanted back to the Mall upon completion of the construction.