BOSTON, Mass. (November 14, 2005)Today, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) will break ground on its Building Project, a major expansion and renovation that will enrich the ways visitors encounter the Museums great works of art, improve navigation through its galleries, and increase space for the MFAs encyclopedic collection, educational programs, conservation facilities and special exhibitions. Central to this plan is a new American Wing which will showcase the Museums collection of American artone of the most important in the world. Another key component of the Building Project is the creation of a dramatic, glass-enclosed space located within the Museums east courtyard, which today the Museum announces will be named the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard. The Building Project has been designed by the Pritzker prize-winning architectural firm Foster and Partners of London, highly regarded for their signature buildings and innovative incorporation of modern designs within historic architecture.
To mark the occasion of its groundbreaking, there will be a ceremony at the MFA today. Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA, will be joined by feature speakers including Spencer de Grey, Deputy Chairman of Foster and Partners, along with government officials and other representatives from the MFA.
The groundbreaking is a significant moment for the MFA, as well as the City of Boston, commented Rogers. Its a large undertakingto update, expand and transform such a historic building. These dramatic changes will affect museum goers for generations to come.
Many generous individual, corporate and foundation donors have supported Building the New MFA, the MFAs ongoing fundraising Campaign. Today, the Museum announces that a recent gift from the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation brings their total Campaign gift to $15 milliona very significant contribution to the current Campaign total of $316 million. In recognition of the Shapiros generous support, the glass courtyard will be named the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard in their honor. In addition, a principal gallery in the new American Wing, that will house the MFAs renowned collection of paintings by John Singer Sargent, will be named the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Gallery. Funds from the Shapiro Family Foundation gift have also been designated to support the MFAs diverse range of educational programs, including the Shapiro Celebrity Lectures.
There will be a number of speakers on hand to deliver remarks at todays groundbreaking ceremony. Expected speakers include U.S. Representative Michael Capuano; Massachusetts Secretary of Economic Development, Ranch Kimball; Director of Arts, Tourism and Special Events for the City of Boston, Susan Harnett; state Senator Dianne Wilkerson; and Boston City Councilor Michael Ross. Representing the Museum will be Susan Paine, Chairman of the MFA Board of Trustees; Roger Servison, President of the MFA Board of Trustees; Alan Strassman, MFA Trustee and Chairman, Project Executive Committee; Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA; and Spencer de Grey, Deputy Chairman, Foster and Partners. Additionally, Senator Edward M. Kennedy has sent a pre-recorded video message of congratulations. Groundbreaking attendees will also see a virtual tour of the new Museum for the first time via a short film produced for the Museum by Neoscape of Boston.
The groundbreaking ceremony will take place on the Museum grounds at the corner of Fenway and Forsyth Way, between the future location of the American Wing and the Museums north faade (facing the Fenway community). The north side of the Museum and its grounds will undergo significant renovations and landscaping aided by a $6.2 million congressionally directed grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, made possible by the leadership of Senator Kennedy, as well as U.S. Representatives Capuano, John Olver, and Edward Markey.
In addition to the new, four-story wing for Art of the Americas and the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard, the MFA Building Projects core initiatives include the creation of a new Gund Gallery for temporary exhibitions, a series of new contemporary and late 20th century art galleries, and refurbished Art of Europe galleries. Foster and Partners will work closely with Boston-based design firm, CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares Inc., as the local Architect of Record, as well as with Skanska USA Building Inc., the construction management firm.
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On July 4, 1876, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston opened the doors of its red brick and terra-cotta building in Copley Square. Over time, the rapid growth of the collection made a new location necessary and the Museum hired architect Guy Lowell to develop a master plan for the Museum. In November 1909, the Museum opened the doors of its present granite, neo-classical structure on Huntington Avenue. Throughout the century, the Museum continued to grow, but it did not follow the original site plan developed by Lowell. The MFA commissioned the architectural firm, Foster and Partners, to develop a Master Site Plan; the first phase of this Building Project is expected to be completed in 2010.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is recognized for the quality and scope of its encyclopedic permanent collection, which includes an estimated 450,000 objects. The Museums collection is made up of: Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings and Photographs; Textiles and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments.
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