Let There Be Light: Cleveland Museum of Art’s New Atrium Open

Midwest
Friday, September 7, 2012
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A view of the skylight that defines Cleveland Museum of Art's new atrium. (Courtesy Bruce Kratofil via Flickr.)

A view of the skylight that defines Cleveland Museum of Art’s new atrium. (Courtesy Bruce Kratofil via Flickr.)

After seven years of construction, during much of which visitors were sent on an underground detour, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s expansive atrium opened in late August.

The 39,000-square-foot Rafael Viñoly-designed atrium is essentially a massive skylight, which arcs from 55 to 66 feet in height across a space nearly as large as a football field. Planting beds complement the granite floor, anchoring an airy space that houses a second floor mezzanine and could seat upwards of 700 people for events.

The space envelops the museum’s original 1916 white marble building and is is the principal component of a $350 million expansion and renovation project he planned for the museum ten years ago. More galleries in the new West Wing are set to open late next year.

Though already open for visitors, the atrium won’t have its official celebration until October 28. The addition is cause for celebration among gallery-goers and Clevelanders in general, who can count the atrium among the city’s largest public rooms. It’s also a positive sign for the museum’s neighborhood, University Circle, which has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

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