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Florida art museum appoints Norman Foster for redevelopment

by Jak Phillips | 12 Dec 2013

The deputy director of Florida’s Norton Museum of Art believes hiring world-renowned architects Foster and Partners for its new transformation has sent a "clear message" of the institution’s "serious ambition" to become a major international art venue.

James Brayton Hall described Lord Norman Foster as one of the "top three architects in the world" and said it was his work on the British Museum and Boston Museum of Fine Arts that persuaded Norton to seek the 78-year-old’s services.

"With Florida about to become America’s third most populous state, we feel now is the perfect opportunity to solidify Norton’s position as a national and international cultural venue," Hall told Attractions Management.

"We wanted to show how serious we are about showcasing our existing and future collections in a world class setting and feel Lord Foster is uniquely positioned to help us realise these goals."

Foster unveiled his masterplan for the ambitious transformation in Miami last week.

Among the standout features were three bold new pavilions, unified under a shimmering roof, which will enable the museum to almost double its gallery space.

The masterplan will also enable the West Palm Beach institution to regain the symmetry of the original east-west axial arrangement.

The redesign will restore the art-deco inspired clarity of the museum’s original 1941 design by reinstating the main entrance on a new street frontage on South Dixie Highway, meaning visitors will once again be able to see through the entire building via a new, transparent grand hall.

Having only been approved by the Museum's Board of Trustees in October, the project remains very much in its infancy, with costings and planning permissions yet to be defined.

However, the masterplan is expected to serve as strategic blueprint for the museum’s growth over the next 15-20 years and Hall revealed the transformation would likely develop in three stages.

“We’re expecting the first phase to take 18-24 months and would love to be able to break ground in 2016, which will be our 75th birthday," added the deputy director, who began his tenure in April.

"Phase one will largely revolve around quasi-public parts of the museum, so we’re hopeful of keeping as many parts of museum open as possible throughout the redevelopment."

The Norton Museum of Art is one of Florida’s major cultural attractions, famed for its distinguished permanent collection of art from across the globe, featuring works by Gauguin, Matisse, Monet, Picasso and Pollock.

Reflecting on the eye-catching plans, Lord Foster said in a press release: "The project combines old and new and continues our explorations into the museum in a garden setting, which began with the Sainsbury Centre and has more recently embraced the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston - it is a fascinating, multi-faced challenge."

The deputy director of Florida’s Norton Museum of Art believes hiring world-renowned architects Foster and Partners for its new transformation has sent a "clear message" of the institution’s "serious ambition" to become a major international art venue. James Brayton Hall described Lord Norman Foster as one of the "top three architects in the world" and said it was his work on the British Museum and Boston Museum of Fine Arts
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Foster and Partners' vision for the transformation / Foster and Partners
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