Bowdoin College Museum of Art


Bowdoin College maintains one of the oldest collegiate art collections in the country, dating from 1811 when James Bowdoin III bequeathed his collection of European paintings and Old Master drawings to the College. In 1891, Mary and Harriet Walker endowed the construction of a freestanding museum building worthy of the collection, and commissioned the esteemed architecture firm of McKim, Mead and White to design and construct the Walker Art Building. While building exuded Bowdoin's continued commitment to the arts, it did not provide the space or technical amenities required of a 21st-century teaching museum. In 2003, after three years of evaluating the Museum`s physical needs and refining its programmatic vision, Machado and Silvetti Associates was hired to develop designs for the building renovation and expansion. The design addresses new program needs, necessary code and accessibility upgrades and incorporates state of the art security and climate control systems to meet current museum standards. A dramatic glass, bronze and blackened steel pavilion on the south side of the original building provides a new entry to the expanded museum, offering equal access from both the town of Brunswick and the College. This 600 square foot pavilion houses a gracious new steel and stone stair and glass elevator that lead down to new visitor service spaces and lower level gallery entrance. The seemingly freestanding entry pavilion allows the original landmark structure to maintain its splendid and classical autonomy, and the use of glass offers a respectful yet contemporary compliment to the stately masonry building. The restoration of the Walker Art Building includes structural and waterproofing upgrades as well as new gallery lighting, signage and the insertion of state of the art mechanical systems within the historic building envelope. A larger addition on the west side of the historic structure houses seven new galleries, including a dedicated seminar room, and consists of an upgraded loading facility and high capacity elevator as well as a new public stair connecting upper and lower gallery spaces. To support the teaching mission of the museum, the addition and renovation of the 33,500 square foot project provided a highly efficient administrative office wing and high-density archival storage spaces. Open storage and study areas are intended to directly engage students and faculty in object-based research.

Renovation, 2007