Bowdoin College’s Walker Art Building had been closed for four years during its renovation, and just opened last fall. I finally had the chance to visit it last week. The original neoclassical structure, designed by McKim, Mead and White, opened in 1894 with its magnificent rotunda decorated with murals of the great cities of Europe.
The architectural firm Machado & Silvetti Associates was hired in 2003 to bring it into the 21st century.
Wanting to preserve the original historic and magnificent edifice, the new building had to be climate controlled, accommodate larger contemporary works and an ever-expanding collection, greater teaching capacity, universal access and the ability to withstand freezing and thawing.
To accomplish this, the new space was added on the lower level. A separate glass cube was added to enter the building and immediately descend into the lower galleries. The new contemporary glass enclosure is a grand entrance in its own right, without detracting from the granite/limestone/brick structure a stone’s throw away.
Stay tuned for a tour of the new Frank Gehry-designed Lewis Library.