New Ideas For An Old Museum

New director of the oldest public art museum in the country dumps design, puts renovations on hold.
July 26, 2003, 1pm PDT | Connie Chung
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The expansion of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT, will be put on hold as the new director "and a committee of board and staff members are taking a fresh look at the expansion and renovation project, the principal raison d'etre of a $120 million fund-raising campaign announced two years ago." According to the director, "The Atheneum needs to assess how it will fit into a downtown that's being expanded by the 33-acre Adriaen's Landing project." He also "wants to be certain that form follows function, that whatever is built meets the priorities of the institution. To that end, he and the committee have begun a series of meetings with the staff, to be followed by meetings with board members, volunteer groups and members of the community." The director added that "it will be 'unlikely' that the Atheneum will build the design developed by Ben van Berkel of UN Studio of the Netherlands and Fox & Fowle Architects of New York." While the "innovative design was generally praised, some questioned whether its neo-Baroque look meshed with the older Victorian buildings....Perhaps most importantly, there were 'serious questions' about whether the work could have been done for the $80 million projected cost." The director, however, hopes that Maya Lin, who was to design the landscape for the renovation, "will still be involved in the new project, once it's decided what that will be."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Friday, July 25, 2003 in The Hartford Courant
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