At the core of the MFA’s transformational building expansion and renovation is a new wing for the Art of the Americas and the glass-enclosed Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard. Designed by Foster + Partners (London), the project will enrich the ways visitors encounter the MFA’s great works of art and increase space for its encyclopedic collections, special exhibitions, and educational programs. The plan reaffirms the architectural legacy of the Museum’s 1907 design created by architect Guy Lowell, who envisioned a strong north-south axis for the building. Foster + Partners has reestablished this central axis, which brings visitors back to the heart of the MFA and improves navigation throughout the entire Museum.
The wing for the Art of the Americas will dramatically enhance the MFA’s ability to exhibit and interpret its collection of art from North, Central, and South America created over three millennia, including iconic works representing the United States, from the birth of the nation through the third quarter of the 20th century. Adjacent to it is the Shapiro Family Courtyard, a light-filled, grand public space that links the new wing to the historic Museum building (which opened on Huntington Avenue in 1909). As a result of this new construction, the MFA’s net square footage increases from 483,447 to 616,937 square feet. In addition to this expansion, much of the existing Museum was renovated, including both of its historic entrances, as well as the visitor center, galleries throughout the MFA, and conservation labs.
In September 2011, the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art will open. Designed by I.M. Pei in 1981 as the Museum’s West Wing, it will feature contemporary works, which will be on view in seven newly created galleries as well as the existing Foster Gallery.