Under Threat: Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University
by James Striling and Michael Wilford, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 1984-1985
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, opened in 1985, was designed by well-known British architects James Stirling and Michael Wilford as part of the Harvard Art Museums (another two facilities being Fogg Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum). The building also housed offices for the History of Art and Architecture and Digital Images and Slides Collection of the Fine Arts Library. The building was closed to the public since June 2014, when the final phase of Renzo Piano´s renovation and extension of the building on 32th Quincy Street was near completion. Since the process of packing and relocating collections to the newly renovated building, ended in Autumn last year Stirling and Wilford´s creation is underutilized and has an uncertain future. The University authorities are still discussing the possibilities of reuse of old Sackler Museum, as of Autumn 2015, there are still no certain provisions for its future, yet there rumours about it demolition can be heard. The building is remarkable for variety of features, mostly its representative front facade with two concrete cylinders and large square window dominating in it. What also draws attention is the use of two colored brick rhythmical stripes in the other part of the building, and most importantly the design of its interior suggesting a monumentality while actually meeting administrative and gallery needs with a dense, tight plan on a small restricted site.
The artistic value of the building are indisputable, and docomomo International believes that its proper reuse is essential for the cause of preserving and conserving it for the future generations. docomomo International is aware of the concern that the present situation has produced in architectural and conservation circles worldwide. We fully support initiatives dedicated to save this significant building.