Ann Beha Architects complete the New Britain Museum of American Art
Established in 1903, the New Britain Museum of American Art was the first museum devoted to work by American artists. Following ABA’s Master Plan, the firm completed a new museum connected to the existing Landers House, home to the Museum since 1937. The original Museum building is part of a neighborhood of turn-of-the-century houses listed on the National Register of Historic Places, now a mix of residential and commercial occupants, and borders the rolling landscape of Walnut Hill Park, designed in 1870 by Frederick Law Olmstead. The new Museum is composed of linked pavilions: two double-height square and rectangular masses, connected by public areas with lower heights, and opening onto the Park. Materials and colors of the new wing respond to the distinctive red and ochre palette of the existing Landers House, deploying metal, stone and glass, connected by a transparent glass loggia. The galleries, with their wide portals and viewing angles, effortlessly guide the choice and patterns of visitor flow, eliminating the need for internal signage. Program areas like the auditorium, café and family education rooms overlook the park, encouraging visitors to explore nature in conjunction with their gallery visit. The new wing creates a sense of presence within the sensitive residential neighborhood without dominating it, welcoming visitors but also confirming the institution’s civic importance.