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Michael Bongiorno on the Columbus Museum of Art’s New Wing Design

in Visual Arts 2 min read

On August 22, the Columbus Museum of Art broke ground for its new wing–a major milestone for both the museum and Columbus.  The expansion project, the third phase of a three part master plan, consists of the renovation of the 38,000 square foot 1974 Wing, a major addition of 50,000 square feet, and the associated site work related to a new main entrance, relocated sculpture garden, and related outdoor spaces. CMA’s vision is to foster a dynamic visitor experience built around a world-class collection,

Under the design leadership of DesignGroup principal Michael Bongiorno, AIA, the museum design team of Keoni Fleming, Keith DeVoe, Joseph Mayer, and Brandon Pence has developed a bold and novel design strategy. DesignGroup asked provocative questions of CMA about both the relationship of the museum to contemporary culture and the museum’s physical relationship to the city and its citizens. The building design is a reflection of the museum’s ambition to be more visible, relevant, and connected to the community as a meeting point between art, the public and the physical city.which places CMA at the vanguard of a new movement among art museums that focuses not only on art, but also on visitors and their experiences with art and with each other.

Bongiorno,  who recently joined GCAC’s Board of Trustees, said that the museum is changing and adapting to a new age – away from “hallowed hall” to an experience for visitors of all ages who come to enjoy the collections and to socialize.  He anticipates that the design will bring a new energy and audience.

“As it stands, when you’re coming down Broad Street you may drive by it and notice the building or not,” said Bongiorno. “Part of the goal was to bring it out to Broad Street with cinematic facades.”

To maintain the integrity of the original building, the addition will have a very different, but complimentary design.  Bongiorno, who believes the original building to be an historic jewel,  said the wing will become more of a setting that highlights the beauty of it.

“The upper gallery exterior will be wrapped in a really beautiful green, pre-patinated copper façade,” said Bongiorno.  “The rest of it [the addition] is glass and limestone. It’s the same material as the old building, but used in a completely different way.”

A two-way window will connect visitors with the old building. The design will offer a “new arrival experience” and an entry lobby that will help with way-finding and long lines–as well as 50K feet of additional gallery space.

“In addition to the whole redefined entrance, the Museum is building upon the success of their event experience – people love getting married at the museum,” said Bongiorno.  “There is more demand than supply, so we’re doubling the size of the event space.”

To learn more about the expansion, visit  Image:  Michael Bongiorno.