The new Norton Museum of Art expansion by Foster + Partners will celebrate its grand opening this weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida. Two years after the ceremonial groundbreaking, the museum will open its doors to the public and showcase a new street frontage with a transparent entrance lobby. The plan preserves the institution's original 1941 east wing and the logic of architect Marion Sims Wyeth's initial plan. The project aimed to transform the existing buildings into a world-class cultural destination within a sub-tropical garden.
The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach was built in 1941 to house the art collection of the industrialist Ralph Hubbard Norton and his wife, Elizabeth. As the design team states, the museum was laid out by the architect Marion Sims Wyeth as a series of Art Deco inspired single story pavilions around a central courtyard. The new masterplan reasserts the clarity of the main axis, balancing the different building heights and providing flexible visitor facilities to attract a wider local and international audience.
The new entrance includes three new double-height pavilions with a shared materials palette of white stone. The pavilions house a state-of-the-art auditorium and event space and are unified beneath a metal roof canopy that shades the entrance plaza. The landscaping of the gardens and central courtyard incorporates native trees and flowers to provide shaded walkways, and the former parking lot is transformed into a sculpture lawn. The design also includes a new museum shop and a new restaurant with al-fresco garden seating.
Executive architect on the project is Boston-based CBT Architects, while the landscape and gardens were designed by Foster + Partners and EDSA. The museum expansion opens to the public this Saturday, February 9.
UPDATE: Foster + Partners Norton Museum of Art expansion will official break ground tomorrow, February 6, following the Norton's annual Gala celebrating its 75th anniversary. The project, which will transform the museum's West Wing, increase gallery space by 35 percent and add a new auditorium, great hall and education space to the building, is expected to complete in 2018.