The expansion of the Colby College Museum of Art has been carefully designed by Los Angeles architects Frederick Fisher and Partners to provide the highest quality art exhibition space and visitor experience.
An iconic glass pavilion emerging from the existing museum building will transform the museum’s identity in accord with its evolving and growing collection. The aesthetic and functional attributes of the expansion will intertwine to create a bold addition to the campus. The three-story art wall in the museum’s east stairwell will provide an exciting opportunity to display art that will be visible through the building’s glass facade to everyone traveling along Mayflower Hill Drive.
Although the pavilion’s form will be relatively simple and compatible in scale to adjacent campus architecture, its glass facade will offer a striking distinction from the brick buildings. During the day the facade’s reflective qualities will render the building a canvas of continuously changing images depicting nature and life on Colby’s campus. At night the glass’s transparency will reveal glimpses of art and activity within, making the building a lantern of creativity.
The museum’s primary entrance will remain off the Paul J. Schupf Sculpture Court. On Bixler Drive visitor access will be prominent. The expansion will add about 26,000 square feet of new construction, including 10,000 square feet of new exhibition space, and it will renovate about 3,500 square feet of existing space. Energy efficiency and environmental concerns are at the forefront of the design process, and the project is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification.
The Colby College Museum of Art is an invaluable educational resource. Each year hundreds of Colby students enrolled in more than seventy courses visit the museum to complete tours and assignments. Faculty use the museum’s galleries and rich collections to teach not only about art and art history but also about history, language, psychology, politics, and the physical properties of objects.
In the fall of 2010, biology students explored depictions of nature in the museum collection and designed posters with environmental themes. Students learning about colonialism in the New World compared artworks by indigenous peoples to the work of colonial artists. Other students practiced Italian, Spanish, French, German, and Russian by describing artworks to their classmates. Also, students have choreographed and performed dances in response to works in the galleries. With an infrared camera, students in the natural sciences will examine artists’ hidden drawings beneath the surfaces of oil paintings. Others will explore responses to death in American culture and will study the history of American environmental policy.
Working with community volunteers, student docents provide museum tours for more than three thousand local schoolchildren each year. Furthermore, through internships and courses students are introduced to museum professions and learn to curate exhibitions of their own.