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About the Building

Smith College's renowned Museum of Art, art library and art department have a distinguished new home -- the newly named Brown Fine Arts Center -- thanks to the completion of a two-year, $35-million building renovation and expansion. At its outset, the renovation was the largest capital project in the college's 122-year history.

Led by New York City-based Polshek Partnership Architects, the renovation stripped the former 1972 complex down to its steel girders and then rebuilt it entirely, transforming its architecture and infrastructure. The art library and department opened in September, 2002; the center's other key occupant, the Smith College Museum of Art, opened in April, 2003.

New features of the 164,000-gross-square-foot facility include a cutting-edge digital imaging center, updated ventilation and environmental controls and improved galleries and art studios. The Hillyer Art Library, regarded as among the best art libraries at American undergraduate institutions, was significantly redesigned. The new building features a greatly expanded technological infrastructure, a dramatic aesthetic overhaul and improved amenities for students, staff and visitors.


Total area: 164,000 gross square feet
Project cost: $35 million
Project architects: Polshek Partnership Architects, New York
Campus contacts: John Davis (Department of Art), Suzannah Fabing (Museum of Art), Barbara Polowy (Hillyer Art Library)
Project manager: Charles Conant, Physical Plant Department

Construction timeline

1998: Feasibility study by the New York City-based firm Kliment and Halsband.
1998: The firm of Polshek Partnership Architects selected.
1999: Complex closed. Museum collections began to travel to venues around the world for public exhibition during renovation.
2000: Construction began in June.

Public openings

September 2002: Department of Art and Hillyer Art Library
April 27, 2003: Museum of Art

For more information

"Image and Word: Art and Art History at Smith College" is a comprehensive history of the art curriculum and facilites at the college. The 176-page cloth-bound book commemorates the opening of the Brown Fine Arts Center. For more information, contact the Museum Shop at (413) 585-2760.


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