Following 11 months of construction, the doors to the Crumpacker Gallery officially opened Friday, September 21. The transformed building, previously occupied by the Freeman Student Center and Tuck Shop, now houses a teaching gallery on its first floor and instructional studios and storage for the School’s permanent art collection on the ground level.
The sleek new space, designed by Ann Beha Architects of Boston, Mass., and RFS Engineering in Laconia, N.H., replaces the Hargate Gallery, home to the School’s Fine Arts program and exhibition area from the late 1960s until the fall of 2015. Colin Callahan, head of the Arts Department, serves as director of the Crumpacker Gallery.
The first show in the gallery honors Thomas R. Barrett, a longtime faculty member and originator of the School’s Fine Arts Program, and his wife, fellow Fine Arts faculty member Leni Mancuso Barrett. In addition to teaching, Thomas also served as director of the Hargate Gallery until his retirement in the late 1980s. The show features 50 pieces by the late artists. Their son, painter Kedron Barrett ’79, curates the exhibition. The majority of works feature oil paintings inspired by Thomas and Leni’s years in Castine, Maine.
Before becoming the Crumpacker Gallery, the brick structure behind Memorial Hall served several functions. Constructed in 1970 to house the School bookstore and Tuck Shop, the building transitioned into the student center in the 1990s. In its latest incarnation, architect Edward Larrabee Barnes's mid-century modern vision has morphed into a modern art gallery, equipped with climate control settings for both the exhibition and storage spaces. In addition to Ann Beha Architects and RFS Engineering, the School’s Facilities Department coordinated with Harvey Construction of Bedford, N.H., on construction management.
The physical footprint of the original structure remains, but significant improvements were made to add function and aesthetics to reflect its new purpose. Maple and birch paneling replace the existing spruce planks on the high vaulted ceilings to create an understated backdrop. The natural wood conceals acoustic fabric that minimizes noise within the room. The gallery is also equipped to maintain 50 percent humidity between 68 F during the heating season and 74 F during the cooling season to protect the artwork within from mold, mildew, oxidation, shrinkage, and other quality issues. The use of spray foam insulation between the walls creates a high-performance envelope that minimizes energy waste. Both natural and LED light illuminate the gallery and studios. The four skylights, original to the building, are equipped with motorized blinds to accommodate video installations.
The gallery, just footsteps from the recently revitalized Fine Arts Building, fulfills the School’s plan to bring the Fine Arts program to the academic quad.
The Crumpacker family – James F. Crumpacker ’98, Elizabeth A. and James F. Crumpacker P’94, 98, and Catherine E. Stafford ’94 – for whom the gallery is named, will be honored at a dedication ceremony at the School on Friday, September 28.