Wesleyan Art Gallery, Middletown, CT
How to introduce the arts to a student population? How can we frame an encounter with an artifact—only a few inches across—in the context of a busy campus?
A new gallery space, inserted between existing buildings, offers the opportunity to create a moment of respite in busy campus life. The art gallery introduces the students to insights through encounters and becomes a space that creates room to think and see in a new way.
Our design for the Wesleyan Art Gallery is built around a careful framing of this encounter, making the interaction with the rarified collection of works on paper as rich and meaningful as possible. This building is not an extension of the neighboring library, but it creates a destination of its own.
We frame the encounter by creating a series of experiential realms and thresholds. Each layer allows a step down in scale. The quiet sanctum of the gallery is a space of exploration, defined by its separation from other environments, sounds and light. Book talks and gallery openings use a space visible to the campus, opening onto the garden in warmer months. The garden defines the next threshold, passing from the shared social area to the intimate space of the gallery itself.