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Columbus Museum of Art

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Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) was built in the 1930s and has its formal “front” on Broad Street, a significant urban corridor.  A 1970s expansion included an addition and parking lot to the north of the 1930s building. In 2008, the board commissioned a master plan centered on the idea of further expansion, but in the meantime they needed to renovate the historic museum building in order to continue providing guests with a great experience as well as to prepare for CMA’s future growth. Schooley Caldwell was hired for this “paint and fix” project, which turned into a much bigger effort to bring back the spirit of the original 38,000 SF building, which will remain the centerpiece of the expanded museum.

An important element of the project involved Derby Court, the museum’s special events space, which was uninviting in terms of accessibility, scale, acoustics, and lighting. In addition, it had begun its life as an open-air courtyard and was subsequently enclosed with a heavy ceiling that altered the feel of the space significantly. Further, the gallery spaces were “tired” and the museum wasn’t able to adequately serve patrons who wanted a modern, interactive experience. Our design addressed these challenges creatively and efficiently.

Derby Court’s floor was raised 4’, which allowed removal of the support columns and turned the previously underused space under Derby Court into fully usable space. This “found space” now houses the new Center for Creativity, a wet lab, orientation room, and video lab. Derby Court’s defining, open-air character was restored through the installation of a new skylight, and the space is now fully accessible to people with disabilities.  The museum’s auditorium space was also enlarged and improved, and the gallery spaces were renovated and revitalized.

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