No. 385 . 18 June 2008 
ArchitectureWeek
ArchWeek Image

Bowdoin College Museum of Art

by James McCown

Museums today aspire to be open, transparent, and welcoming. However admirable these qualities appear from our 21st-century viewpoint, it is instructive to remember that at the height of the Gilded Age, when the American museum was ascendant, the opposite was true.

The lavish Beaux-Arts buildings of that era were unapologetically aristocratic and aloof. Art buildings — both public and private — were funded, designed, and run by bluebloods. The middle-class visitors allowed into their walls were presumed to be elevated, spiritually if not socially, by the museum-visiting experience itself.

No small building in New England so exquisitely epitomizes the Beaux-Arts style as Charles Follen McKim's Walker Art Building at Bowdoin College, whose exterior has remained unchanged since its opening in 1894.

Several prominent architects have attempted over the past decade to enlarge the Walker for the college's Museum of Art and were met with multiple contradictions.

Everyone agrees that the building's haughty elegance should be maintained, but the rigid symmetry and grand entrance stairway so essential to the Beaux-Arts style were problematic for handicapped access, and lent a sense that the elite college was turning its back on Brunswick, Maine, its host community.   >>>

Continue...

Departments   ·   News   ·   Design   ·   Building   ·   Design Tools   ·   Environment   ·   Culture

 

ArchitectureWeek Daily Headlines

IN THIS ISSUE
 Contents/RSS
People and Places
People and Places
Environment
Getting Green Products Right
Culture
Bowdoin College Museum of Art

AND MORE
  Current Contents
  Blog Center
  Download Center
  New Products
  Products Guide
  Classic Home
  Architecture Forum
  Architects Directory
  Topics Library
  Complete Archive
  Web Directory
  About ArchWeek
  Search
  Subscribe & Contribute
  Free Newsletters
   

 
QUIZ
 
NEXT WEEK
Send this to a friend       Subscribe       Contribute       Media Kit       Privacy       Comments Next Page >
GREAT BUILDINGS   |   ARCHIPLANET   |   DISCUSSION   |   COMMUNITY   |   NEW BOOKS   |   FREE 3D   |   SEARCH
http://www.ArchitectureWeek.com/2008/0618/index.html
© 2008 Artifice, Inc. - All Rights Reserved