Building a Book

August 6, 2014
Staff install art during a photo shoot for an upcoming book about the new Harvard Art Museums facility.

When the Harvard Art Museums open this November, visitors will find more than 50 galleries showcasing our collections, a stunning light-filled courtyard, classrooms and lecture halls, and so much more. They’ll also be able to take home a memento of their experience: a new book about our renovated and expanded facility.

The book, which will be available in the shop, highlights how the building project advances our institution’s mission to encourage close study of original works of art, enhance access to the collections, support the production of original scholarship, and foster university-wide collaboration across disciplines. And like all of the work that happens in the museums, getting this publication ready for print has been a team effort.

Last year, the Communications Division organized numerous roundtable discussions with students, faculty, and staff to understand the full scope of how our new facility will serve multiple audiences and programs. Based on these conversations and others with architects from Renzo Piano Building Workshop and local community members, the staff crafted a narrative of how the architecture responds to the museums’ programs and priorities.

After the text was edited and finalized, it was turned over to the museums’ award-winning design team. They reviewed the content and considered what qualities the final product should have. “We wanted a book that could relate to a human scale in the same way that the building does,” said Senior Designer Zak Jensen, describing the book’s size and structure. “We thought about how the manuscript describes the architecture’s transparency, openness, access, and materials, and how the book could be designed to express those same themes.”

The final design incorporates an exposed spine, which reveals the book’s signatures and thread, hinting at aspects of the building's architecture.

All that’s left to decide is the title for the book. Curious what that might be? Visit our new shop in November.

  • of Facilities Manager Jim Moisson (left) talks with Creative Director Steven Waldron as Peter Vanderwarker captures images for the book.
  • of Peter Vanderwarker photographs the impressive new spaces of the Harvard Art Museums. 
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