On the surface, designing a new art museum for Harvard University is a brief so straightforward that it sounds like part of university curriculum itself. The program lends itself to the type of light and airy spaces architects dream of creating; the campus site promises both steady and engaged traffic. But, for all the apparent advantages, the road to realizing Harvard’s Art Museums was a deceptively complex one - one that ultimately took six years to see realized.
Harvard Art Museums: The Latest Architecture and News
In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus school in 2019, Harvard Art Museums has released an online catalogue of their 32,000-piece Bauhaus Collection, containing rarely seen drawings and photographs from attendees and instructors of the revolutionary German design school.
The collection features work from the likes of Mies van der Rohe, Bertrand Goldberg, Marcel Breuer, and Bauhaus-founder Walter Gropius himself, and can be navigated through a search bar and an easy-to-use set of filters, allowing you to categorize work by topic, medium, date or artist.
Last month we spoke with Kulapat Yantrasast, Co-Founder and Creative Director of the LA-based design firm wHY. On the heels of the opening of Harvard Art Museums - for which Yantrasast collaborated on the designs of the exhibition spaces - we wanted to learn more about his approach to designing the galleries for Harvard. “One of the things that I'm super sensitive about is the identify of the experience. Harvard, in particular, is a university museum. So first and foremost it's a place for students and faculty to spend time looking at things closely. Because of that, we want to make sure that a group of 15 people can sit or stand around an art object and could really have a discussion,” Yantrasast explained.
wHY has carried out a wide range of museum and gallery projects, including the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Royal/T project and the renovation of the galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago. Read the full interview with Yantrasast below to learn more about the challenges of gallery design and how technology is affecting museums exhibitions.