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Adjacent to and partially within the existing museum; between Huntington Avenue and the Fenway

Index to Projects in Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts

Gross Floor Area
121,000 s/f

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Time Frame
Planning: 5/77
Construction: 9/78
Completion: 7/81

Phase II Renovation


Museum of Fine Arts
West Wing and Renovation

Boston, Massachusetts
Completed 1981


Lead Designers:



I. M. Pei
C.C. Pei


Expansion building and renovation of existing museum

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This expansion building was designed to augment the existing museum with new exhibition space, and the diverse public services and support facilities required to accomodate modern audiences. The first phase of the project focused on new construction, while the second involved the renovation of existing galleries and the installation of much needed climate control systems.

A primary goal was to rationalize circulation after decades of ad hoc additions had left a confusing warren of dead-end corridors. Linked on three levels to the Beaux-Arts building, the West Wing establishes a continuous loop throughout the entire complex. Its main organizing element is a 200-foot-long barrel-vaulted Galleria that serves as a skylit indoor court and is the physical and visual focus of the museum's new public spaces, including a wide range of dining, a bookstore, 400-seat auditorium, and flexible exhibition galleries to accommodate both the permanent collection and large traveling shows. By concentrating all of these popular public functions places to eat, socialize, see changing exhibitions, attend lectures and other special events and by providing a new entrance with convenient parking, the West Wing serves as an independent mini-museum that can remain open after hours without the significant expense of operating the entire building.


Major Components

Entrance lobby, skylit galleria, 200-seat cafeteria, 75-seat caf, 350-seat restaurant, staff and private dining areas, 6,000s/f bookstore, 400-seat auditorium, 20,000s/f exhibition space including 9,000s/f exhibition gallery, 17,000 s/f outdoor sculpture court, seminar room, administration, storage and support




Adaptive Environment Center: The Best of Accessible Boston Commendation Award


I. M. Pei & Partners services

Master Planning; Complete Architectural Services; Interior Design; Graphics



LeMessurier Associates, Cambridge, MA 


Mechanical / Electrical

Syska and Hennessy, New York, NY



Jules Fisher & Paul Marantz, New York, NY



Photo credits

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