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5 Reasons to Visit the Harvard Art Museums

After six long years, the $350 million dollar renovation and expansion will be finished and eager to host guests from around the world – and of course, that includes us!

If you haven't paid the Harvard Art Museums a visit yet, here are our 5 reasons to grab your ticket:

1. New Spaces

Upon walking into the new Harvard Art Museums, you will be greeted in a grand, and unforgettable way. Step into the public courtyard (more on that below), and appreciate the grandeur, the light, and the effortless mixture of old and new architecture. Look to your left and your right and see snippets of color that will lure you right into the galleries. Each gallery was painstakingly assembled by a host of the finest curators. They included everything from the ancients, beautiful depictions of historical and cultural events, to noteworthy names like Picasso, Degas and more.

Beyond a breathtaking entranceway, the museum now boasts SIX new levels of public space, learning labs and the joining of three museums. In other words, you have access to thousands of works of art and hours of discovery. Sounds like a pretty perfect way to spend an afternoon, don’t you think?

2. A Courtyard for Everyone

Ever crave an inspiring space to grab a coffee, do some work, or just get an extra boost of inspiration? The Italian piazza inspired Calderwood Courtyard might just become your favorite escape, and you have architectural mastermind Renzo Piano to thank.

Existing as a new addition to the museum, the courtyard will be open to the public without the purchase of admission. Grab an expertly crafted latte from the museum café, or browse through curated goodies at the museum shop. There is also a collection of art placed around the entry to be viewed.

Afterwards, pull up a chair to view the gorgeous new glass rooftop, which allows natural light to stream through to the rest of the museum, and find a moment of peace and inspiration.  All completely free of charge.

3. A New Gallery

Located on the top floor of the museum, the new Lightbox Gallery will feature the intersection of art and technology. And it happens to be absolutely breathtaking.

Climb to the top floor of the museum and find an unobstructed view into conservation labs. These labs are heralded as pioneers in both preservation, and applying scientific methods to studying materials and techniques that artists use. Visitors now have the opportunity to see a behind the scenes glimpse into research and conservation activity that is taking place at that very moment. With so much going on, you’re bound to never see the same thing twice.

As an added bonus, you’ll get a closer peek into the architectural details of the glass roof, and a bird’s eye view of the Calderwood Courtyard below, not to mention a breathtaking view of Cambridge itself. Instagram moment, anyone?

4. A Center for Learning

The Art Center that is! The new 5,000 square foot Art Study Center will allow an unparalleled learning opportunity for students, faculty and the public to closely examine original works of art and explore materials used in pieces currently hanging in the gallery.

Delve deeper into the museum and discover a large theater. Fun fact: the screen of the theater reflects sound, and the back absorbs it. This makes for a unique and perfectly tuned way to view any videos that are presented.

We would have to admit, the learning possibilities are endless!  (We’re feeling smarter already).

5. New Exhibitions

The inaugural exhibition featuring Mark Rothko’s artwork is a pretty big deal. Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals have been taken out of storage, restored and will now be viewed using new digital projection technology.  The murals have rarely been seen and now it’s our turn to see them in their original glory.


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