Currier Museum of Art
by Nancy Novitski
The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, reopened its doors in spring 2008 after an expansion designed by Ann Beha Architects. This was both a sympathetic and a very modern expansion, and the results provide quite an elegant increase in the museum's scope.
The project extends the original 1929 museum building in two directions. To the north, the addition bridges two 1980s pavilions, creating a new main entrance and lobby. To the south, a new wing encloses the original grand entrance in a skylit court encircled by galleries.
The 33,000-square-foot (3,100-square-meter) expansion doubles the amount of space for exhibits, programs, and visitor services, while maintaining the museum's intimate scale.
"The placement of new spaces and reconsideration of existing ones establishes a clear path through the galleries which builds on the Beaux Arts symmetry of the original plan," says Pamela W. Hawkes, FAIA, principal-in-charge of the project for Ann Beha Architects.
The expanded museum footprint is nearly symmetrical around its east-west axis, in addition to maintaining the fundamental symmetry around the north-south axis. Specifically, the placement of the new south galleries nearly mirrors that of the two 1980s pavilions on the building's north side.
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