Renovation and Climatization (2007–10)
The Museum launched a number of major construction projects between 2007 and 2010. While renovating approximately 47,500 square feet of space, the majority of these projects included improvements to the Museum’s climate control. This effort, which addresses the lack of air conditioning and humidity control in the original century-old building, will be continued over the next decade in order to create ideal conditions for the collections and our visitors.
Beaux-Arts Court. In 2007 the Museum began an important project to address the severely deteriorated state of the original glass-block floor of the 10,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts Court, the Museum’s largest public space. A new floor was built over the damaged floor, while preserving the original. The floor consists of laminated glass panels, each the size of the original pre-cast concrete panels underneath. The new panels were set on a steel frame, and new hand-set marble mosaic tiles and pre-cast terrazzo, matching the original, were set between them.
The original floor panels are obscured but still visible through the new glass. This approach allows for the creation of a new, structurally sound floor constructed of entirely new materials while all existing historical fabric nonetheless remains in place. Moreover, in the Great Hall, located directly below the Court, the original coffering is now visible, as a result of removing the panels once installed under the vulnerable glass-block floor (in effect, the Hall’s ceiling) as a protective measure. From the Great Hall, the view upward to the original glass blocks is essentially as built, and the amount of light transmitted is not noticeably reduced.
This work was funded by the New York State Legislature and private donations. It received a 2009 Project Award from the Construction Management Association of America, Metro NY/NJ Chapter. Architects for the project were Polshek Partnership.
Kevorkian Gallery. The Museum’s Kevorkian Gallery, on the third floor, has for many years housed twelve ancient alabaster reliefs that came from Nimrud, a site now within the borders of modern Iraq. This long gallery was originally built with its floor slightly lower than the adjoining public spaces at either end, necessitating stairs as well as mechanical lifts to serve people with disabilities. To eliminate these disruptions, a new, sloped floor was built. The reliefs remained safely in place during construction. New railings, lighting, and signage were also installed. Architects for the project were Polshek Partnership.
Contemporary Art Galleries. Despite the Museum’s large and growing collection of contemporary art, there had never been a permanent gallery devoted to this work. With new walls, flooring, and lighting, areas formerly devoted to art storage on the fourth floor were transformed in 2009 into a 3,000-square-foot gallery for the display of contemporary artworks, with rotating installations from the collection. (New art storage facilities are being constructed elsewhere in the building.) The construction expense was provided by private donations. The project was designed in-house by the Planning Department working with curators and the Design Department.
Service Extension. The completion of the two-story service extension added 15,000 square feet of space to the Museum in a new structure set into the landscape along Washington Avenue. The extension houses significant mechanical equipment to provide climate control capacity for upcoming renovations and provides a new loading dock exclusively for the shipping of artworks. New offices and facilities for the handling and storage of art are also incorporated, as are major upgrades to electrical and communication systems. The service building, which was funded by the City of New York and private donations, received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification in 2009. Architects for the project were EwingCole.
Basement Renovation. A total transformation of the Museum’s basement began in 2009. Mechanical air handlers and ductwork for future gallery air conditioning have been installed. New offices and work areas for staff, including carpentry, painting, operations, food service, information technology, and security, will be completed by the end of 2010. Also as part of this effort, fire alarm systems for the entire building are being upgraded. The basement renovation was funded by the City of New York and private donations. Architects for the project were EwingCole.
Great Hall. In June 2010, the Museum began a multi-phase effort to transform the Great Hall, on the ground floor near the public entry, into a dynamic introductory gallery, giving visitors an inviting overview of the Museum’s vast and complex collections. The Great Hall reopened in March 2011 with four large central display walls, ductwork for climate control, and new electrical panels, sprinklers, and gallery lighting. The introductory gallery installation, Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn, opened in April 2012. The renovation of the Great Hall was funded by the City of New York and private donations. Architects for the project were Polshek Partnership, recently renamed Ennead Architects.
Climate Control Progress. Taken together, this construction and renovation work has brought air conditioning to an additional 55,000 square feet of the building, including 7,500 square feet of space that is both conditioned and humidified, which is necessary for art. This climate control infrastructure is needed for future building improvements that are now in the planning stage.
The Brooklyn Museum is a publicly funded institution that receives operating and capital support from the City of New York through the Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Council. Additional support is provided by the Brooklyn Borough President.