The Philadelphia Museum Of Art Goes Underground

Posted by MichaelSimon on Monday, November 29th, 2010

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art broke ground earlier this month as part of a planned underground expansion. The project was designed by Toronto-native Frank Gehry, currently based in Los Angeles. Gehry is known for his unique “undulating” designs and his previous work has included Spain’s Guggenheim Museum, the Los Angeles’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. Gehry was first commissioned to design the expansion in 2006.

The 80,000-square-foot gallery will be constructed underground, adding about 60 percent more space to the museum, which was first opened in 1876 in conjunction with America’s centenary year. The expansion will be under the famous steps of the building’s main neoclassical entrance, overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which featured in the film Rocky.

The project will be completed in three phases spanning a 10-year period and, though it will be a huge expansion of the museum’s capacity, it will not have any effect on the museum’s classic exterior design. The new space will be home to special exhibitions, Asian art and contemporary art galleries. The museum’s current space will be reconfigured once the expansion is finished. The project is expected to cost approximately $500 million.

The museum is currently moving over 200,000 periodicals and books along with nearly 2 million additional documents from the its main building to the Perelman Building (formerly the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company building), across the street.

Museum director and CEO Timothy Rub is in charge of the expansion project, taking the place of previous director and CEO Anne d’Harnoncourt, who passed away in 2008. Rub previously oversaw a $350 million expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Construction for phase one of the expansion is expected to start next year.

Image: Rgordon6

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