April 23, 2019

Antiquarian Society to unveil $18M renovation, expansion

Photo | Grant Welker
A new copper and glass addition to Worcester's American Antiquarian Society adds a modern architectural touch, but also enables new learning and conservation space.

The American Antiquarian Society is putting the finishing touches on a two-year, $18-million Worcester renovation and expansion and is ready to show off the improvements next week.

The research library, located at Park Avenue and Salisbury Street in Worcester, added a 7,000-square-foot, three-story wing including a multistory window framed in a new green copper facade, lending a new look to the century-old building.

A grand reopening is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 4 , with free public admission in which visitors can tour the new spaces and view the society's collections.

The expansion includes a new learning lab, a multipurpose room for programming, and a conservation studio allowing researchers anywhere through teleconferencing to work with collection materials. The facility never before had any classroom space, with educational programs previously held in adapted spaces. The amount of conservation space now triples what was formerly set aside.

Ellen Dunlap, the society's president, said the new spaces dramatically increase its capacity to preserve and share its collection.

As for more behind-the-scenes work, the renovation includes a replacement and reconfiguration of the building's obsolete heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, parts of which the society says were more than a century old.

The society was founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas. It says its collection includes the largest and most accessible trove of books, newspapers, music, graphic arts and other material printed through 1876.


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