Addison Gallery of American Art is a cultural institution that has graced the Phillips Academy campus and the Town of Andover since 1931. In recent years, the Gallery underwent a restoration and expansion effort, which afforded them more space to house and display nearly 17,000 artistic objects.
Upon completion of the two-year restoration and expansion, the museum opened its doors once again in September 2010.
During the course of this first phase of construction, it became evident that additional renovations would need to take place on the building’s original glass roof.
This sky-lighted rooftop, similar in style to a greenhouse roof, was part of the building’s original design as drawn by Architect Charles Platt.
Museum Curator and Associate Director Susan Faxon speaks on behalf of the Addison staff, Phillips Academy and several architectural historians across the country, who recognize the original 1931 building as a beautiful and model period architecture.
“We call this a jewel box museum and have taken great care of the building in the 80 years since we’ve opened.” Faxon said. “Our most important focus is to protect and revere that building.”
During design development for the initial expansion project, careful surveying of the existing glass roof was performed by a team of experts and it was determined that, at that moment in time, the roof would be able to continue to serve the needs of the museum in its original state.
Modest repairs were anticipated; however, it was not until well into the expansion that it became clear that the roof would indeed need to be replaced.
As with any type of major remodeling, once construction ensues the necessity for further action is often brought to the surface.
In the case of the Gallery, many factors played into the eventual decision to take action on the roof. Severe winter weather during the time of ongoing construction, existing climate controls and unavoidable construction related stresses were all contributors in reassessing the time table to address the roof.
The decision to forge ahead with the September 2010 opening and again shut down for the roof project in April was a calculated decision based on prior commitments, scheduling and the knowledge that the upcoming warmer months would be the optimal time to engage in the rooftop work.
Numerous roofing options were explored by the team at Addison as well as Architect: Robert Olson + Associates, Boston; Glass Consultant: Gordon H. Smith Corporation, Washington D.C.; and Contractor John Moriarty & Associates, Winchester.
All are pleased to embark on an innovative solution that will allow the original roof to be preserved while layering a secondary glass roof on top of it. This process will allow work to be done without endangering the building, all the while maintaining the ability to have natural light in the gallery.
The pending construction will involve full scaffolding of the building and rather extensive construction between the months of April and September.
All necessary precautions and safety measures are being taken to ensure a safe and seamless progression.
“The art, of course, is paramount to protect,” said Faxon. “But the building itself is as well.”
Offices in the new wing will remain open and occupied as well as the new Museum Learning Center.
The Learning Center will be an opportunity to continue sharing the learning of the Addison while permanent galleries are on hold.
Parties interested in more than the classes, clubs or group activities offered through the Learning Center should contact the education center directly to learn more about what they might do at the Addison during the summer months.
The museum is set to close at the end of March, until then three exhibits are currently on view through March 27. Stop in soon to see: “Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: The Addison Anew;” ”Artist’s Project: Tristan Perich” and “John LaFarge’s Second Paradise: Voyages in the South Seas, 1890-1891.”
The completion of the roof project is anticipated for early October 2011 at which time permanent collections and traveling exhibitions will return to the historic building.