MassArt Is Opening a New Contemporary Art Museum

After a $12.5 million renovation, it will be free and open to the public.

MassArt Art Museum

Rendering provided by MassArt

A brand new, totally free contemporary art museum is coming to Boston in early 2020, courtesy of MassArt.

The Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the only public art college in the United States, announced Wednesday that it’s investing $12.5 million to renovate existing galleries on Huntington Avenue, which will soon re-emerge as the MassArt Art Museum, or MAAM.

MAAM, the college says in an announcement, will be “welcoming, vibrant, fun, and a bit unexpected.”

In a statement, MassArt president David Nelson says he hopes MAAM will introduce many to contemporary art for the first time. “In this space we will be able to inspire the next generation of MassArt students and art enthusiasts, and encourage longtime art lovers to consider new artistic perspectives and practices,” he says.

The existing 15,000 square foot space, home to the Bakalar & Paine Galleries, was built in 1906 as part of the original MassArt campus. A team of designLAB architects and Dimeo Construction began renovating it in summer of 2017 and expect to be finished by February of next year.

After the redesign, the museum will feature an entryway on Huntington Avenue, as well as an outdoor plaza for hosting art installations and events. A new elevator will allow the museum more options in the kinds of art it can display, including larger and heavier pieces. Construction crews exposed original vaulted ceilings in the Paine Gallery, which will also allow additional room for hanging artworks.

“Our primary goal has always been to show what’s new and to make contemporary art accessible to everyone, and the MassArt Art Museum will make that truly possible,” said Lisa Tung, Executive Director. “We have reimagined the museum-going experience to create an inviting and welcoming place for all our visitors, offering a richer engagement with exhibitions and programming.”

Other improvements are harder to see, but they’ll expand the museum’s offerings all the same. New climate and humidity control systems will allow the museum to continue to show exhibitions throughout the summer, regardless of the weather.

MAAM will continue the role of the Bakalar and Paine Galleries as a teaching museum, where students can work and prepare for careers in museums. The renovations will add more space for this function, including a gallery education studio, preparatory workshop, and curatorial offices.

MassArt Art Museum

Rendering provided by MassArt

MassArt Art Museum

Photo by MassArt