Philadelphia Museum of Art opened to the public earlier this month after completing an extensive four-year renovation and interior expansion project led by Frank Gehry. The intervention, dubbed the Core Project, focused on renewing the museum's infrastructure, creating galleries and public spaces while leaving the 1928 exterior untouched. The culmination of two decades of planning and design, the project led by the renowned architect creates a compelling vision for the future of the museum while honouring the landmark building.
The scope of the Core Project was to preserve the historic exterior of the building while improving the museum's exhibition capabilities by returning underutilized back-of-house spaces to public use. The design comprises nearly 90,000 square feet of renovated or newly created space. Of the latter, William Forum will serve as the venue for a wide range of activities while also connecting the ground floor to the upper levels. The Vaulted Walkway, spanning the entire length of the building, has been refurbished and opened to the public after being closed for nearly 50 years. In addition, several areas housing office spaces and retail operations have been converted into galleries, increasing the museum's exhibition area.
The goal in all of our work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art has been to let the museum guide our hand. The brilliant architects who came before us created a strong and intelligent design that we have tried to respect, and in some cases, accentuate. Our overarching goal has been to create spaces for art and for people. – Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry's design preserves the building's original architectural language and material through the use of the same golden-hued Kasota limestone of the 1928 building. Moreover, the project not only creates new spaces but highlights and reveals to the public the work of the original architects. The renovation relocates collections storage, conservation studios and staff offices, turning the landmark building's interior into a predominantly public space. The refurbished museum opened on May 7, around the same date the institution first opened its doors in 1877. The refurbishment marks a cornerstone for the cultural venue and is expected to serve the economic recovery of Philadelphia, encouraging the growth of tourism.