Monday, December 5, 2022

Muscarelle Museum Expansion Design Details Unveiled

The design for the newly expanded and renovated Muscarelle Musem of Art at The Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts at William & Mary is unveiled. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Pelli Clarke & Partners)

WILLIAMSBURG — Design plans for the expansion and renovation of William & Mary’s Muscarelle Museum of Art were unveiled.

David Brashear, director of the Muscarelle Museum, will present design details and project dates for the facility’s expansion during an information session at the museum next week.

Designed by architects Pelli Clarke and Partners, the multimillion-dollar, privately-funded facility will be called the Martha Wren Briggs Center for Visual Arts

Groundbreaking on the project will happen in late 2022, with the new facility expected to open in 2024 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the museum’s original opening.

According to a release from W&M, the facility will feature a three-story addition with two above-ground levels and a lower level to the west of the existing building. The expansion will also include galleries on the second floor, meeting spaces and seminar rooms on the first floor, and staff offices and mechanical capabilities on the new lower level.

“We will have a central atrium that runs along an axis between the existing building and the new wing,” Brashear said. “The atrium will be our new entrance, and will allow access from both the Jamestown Road side of the museum and the campus side near Jones Hall.”

A courtyard on the campus side of the facility will replace what is currently the rear of the building.

“Along the path students travel between Swem Library and Boswell Hall, we will now have a doorway that invites them in to experience the museum,” Brashear said.

The lobby and atrium area will be used as an event space, visiting area and a space to study or work in the museum. A staircase leads to the second floor, which will house gallery space.

Two sky bridge walkways will connect the existing second floor galleries to the new galleries. Configuration of the new gallery spaces on the second floor of the expanded wing is one of the last few designs that need to be finalized, Brashear said.

A new auditorium/event hall/lecture space will be off of one of the main hallways from the front entry atrium.

“We’ll also have a series of rooms dedicated to students and the academic enterprise of the university,” Brashear said.

The rooms will include a library or study space that can be divided into two smaller rooms, a larger seminar room for roughly 20 to 25 students and a small seminar room and works on paper study room.

“We’re looking forward to these learning spaces being incorporated into the museum and they really were one of the key things that our primary donor Martha Wren Briggs wanted to get out of the new and expanded museum,” Brashear said.

“And our event hall will be a game-changer for us,” Brashear added. “We host a lot of lectures and special events at the museum. Today that requires us to arrange chairs and tables in our main gallery downstairs and put our speaker at one end of the gallery. The new event hall will allow us to better separate exhibitions and events, and keep our exhibitions accessible during special programs.”

Design Principal William Butler will join Brashear for the presentation at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 7 in the museum’s Sheridan Gallery.

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