Text description provided by the architects. Leers Weinzapfel Associates’ Paul S. Russell MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is now open to the public. Located on a prominent site at the entry to the hospital’s downtown campus, this freestanding, purpose-built hospital museum is the first of its kind in the United States. Reflecting MGH’s achievements, culture, and place in the community, it showcases the evolution of medicine and surgery at the hospital and the innovative science and research behind it.
The museum is an 8,000-square-foot gateway to a large ensemble of complementary MGH buildings. Representing the “human face” of the hospital complex, this two-story structure with a third level rooftop garden is a literal and symbolic hub with amenities that attract patients, researchers, interns, faculty, staff, and visitors alike. Its gleaming, high-performance, copper exterior enclosure is durable, maintenance-free, and recyclable. Copper-colored fritted glazing provides strong insulation yet allows natural daylight to penetrate the building.
The dynamic and flexible interior and exterior spaces within are designed to adapt to changing technology, exhibits, and functions, enhancing the user experience. Reception and orientation space, core and changing exhibition galleries, media and theater space, a hands-on learning and simulation lab, and adjunct support spaces are housed on its two floors.
Sustainability features permeate the building’s design. The copper exterior is made from 80 to 95 percent recycled content. An occupiable green roof and pervious site paving and planting absorb storm water and reduce the heat island effect. The museum’s two interior spaces interconnect to reduce heating loads, cooling loads, and artificial lighting. Meticulous site lighting design employs cutoff luminaires to minimize night sky light trespass while ensuring adequate safety and security lighting.
“The Russell Museum is a symbol of the hospital’s educational mission. It is designed to be a cultural and educational portal,” says Peter Slavin, MD, president of Massachusetts General Hospital. “Through the lens of the MGH, the museum aims to tell the story of the evolution of medicine and the innovations under way today that will shape the practice of medicine in the future. This museum also stands as a distinctive front door to MGH, welcoming patients, families, staff, and the community and the public to come in, learn, be inspired, and enjoy.”