The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell is a victim of its own success. Since it opened in 1973, the museum's permanent collection has grown to 32,000 from 9,000 works of art from Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America, and more than 2 million people have visited the landmark building. Yet current gallery space in the 61,000-square-foot museum allows only 2.5 percent of the collection, or about 765 objects, to be displayed at one time.
On April 30 the museum announced that it will break ground on a 16,000-square-foot addition in spring 2008, pending municipal approvals. The new wing will make more of the collection accessible through improved exhibition space and provide space for performances, lectures, films and storage.
"This addition will make it possible for us to show literally hundreds more works of art from the permanent collection that had been previously inaccessible," said Frank Robinson, the Richard J. Schwartz Director of the Johnson Museum. "It will have a tremendous impact on the ability of our students and the general public to understand and appreciate the full range of world art."
The expansion will complete architect I.M. Pei's original blueprint for the museum. John Sullivan III '62 of Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, architect-in-charge of the 1973 building, designed the new space, which will consist of three floors above and below ground level just to the north of the current building. The wing will open in 2010.
In 2006 the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Johnson Museum a $500,000 challenge grant to fund the $17 million facility, for which about $15 million has been raised so far. A public celebration of the new and original buildings will be held at the museum May 6 from 5 to 7 p.m.