designLAB architects is pleased to present the Arkell Museum for the Arkell Hall Foundation
designLAB has created a new museum for the foundation, renovating its historic, 20th century library at the site of the original Beech-Nut Factory in Canajoharie, New York. Located on the scenic Mohawk River, the new Museum tells the multifaceted story of the intersections between local manufacturing, art, and culture through the lens of the arts patronage of industrialist Bartlett Arkell, founder of Beech-Nut foods. The designLAB scheme infuses the forgotten industrial site with new life through thoughtful renovation and an engaging programmatic approach.
The expansion provides for over 8,000 SF of additional gallery space in compliment to the original 800 SF Nightwatch Gallery, which houses Bartlett Arkell’s commissioned copy of the monumental Rembrandt piece, along with numerous paintings of landscape, domestic and genre scenes. The Arkell collection of late 19th and early 20th century American art boasts works by Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent, Gary Melcher, and Andrew Wyeth, among many others. The renovation of the old, gambrel-roofed library is blended with a contemporary gallery addition that alludes to the museum’s industrial past. In order to create a more dramatic and powerful impact from the nearby interstate, the museum subtly references the monumental factory and its iconic “Beechnut” sign, the factory’s crisp, white geometry serving as a backdrop to the museum. The 5 acre foreground to the museum is composed of two 150 feet long by 8 feet high earth-formed eskers, which celebrate the local geology of the rich, agricultural landscape of the Mohawk River Valley. From the exterior, the new structure reads as a series of glowing boxes that gives the Arkell Museum - and the city of Canajoharie - a presence that is visible from the nearby New York State Thruway.