Community Profile: Norton Museum of Art
Innovative, adventurous re-design for West Palm Beach’s cultural landmark
By Gwen Donovan
Excitement is in the air at The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. A newly expanded West Wing represents a 35% increase in gallery space, while other new additions such as a striking new entrance, state-of-the-art 210-seat auditorium, additional education space and a great hall to serve as a social hub are transforming this museum. Additionally, the renovation includes a sculpture garden and green spaces for future programming within its 6.3-acre campus.
What is Happening at the Norton?
According to Scott Benarde, Director of Communications for the museum, this modern renovation changes the look and feel of the Norton in a dramatic way. “The design by the renowned architectural firm of Foster + Partners is nothing less than eye-catching and substantially different, thus separating itself from the currently similarly-looking Palm Beach Atlantic University next door. The new design also infuses the Museum with more light and brightness and, as Norman Foster says, also creates ‘A Museum in a Garden.’ There’s simultaneously a airier and more sophisticated feel to the building.”
Innovation and Impact
One of the most impactful changes is the new entrance that sets the tone for things to come within the museum, Benarde says. “The canopied entrance is a showstopper that lets the community know where the entrance to the Museum is, so visitors will no longer have to search for its previously semi-hidden entrance. It is also more expansive and open, more welcoming, and certainly ‘greener,’ putting a spotlight on the majestic 80-year-old banyan tree that is literally embraced by the canopy.”
Art for All
Inside, the new spaces are designed to create a more inviting atmosphere for people who may be intimidated by an art museum, Benarde notes. “More gallery space means more art on view with improved sight lines and lighting. The new auditorium means visitors can better enjoy programs due to improved acoustics, sightlines and more comfortable seating. More classrooms mean room for more visitors to enjoy art-making, lessons and lectures. A great hall will serve as the Norton’s new living room, serving as a space people can rest, relax, meet friends and have a cup of coffee at the cafe before or after viewing the art — or not!”
You are Welcome Here!
Enriching the visitor experience and engaging the public is a philosophy that came directly from new museum director Hope Alswang, Benarde says. “The director views The New Norton as a community center that will be welcoming to everyone, whether they have an art history degree or are visiting an art museum for the first time.
To learn more about the Norton Museum of Art visit their website!