The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University opened in 1973 with a collection of just over 9,000 objects. Today it numbers more than 31,000 objects. The museum is committed to maintaining its role as a dynamic cultural, intellectual, and social center of Cornell and the region. Collections care is central to this commitment. However, as an external review panel concluded several years ago, “The one serious challenge facing the Herbert F. Johnson Museum today is the lack of space to carry its mission forward.”
The museum has responded to this challenge and in 2008 will begin a 13,000 square feet expansion—the first in the history of the museum. In the past 10 years, the museum has renovated each one of its art storage areas, adding new, appropriate flat files for storage of works on paper and compact shelving for three-dimensional objects. Yet, as the collection grows, it is becoming increasingly difficult to store works of art in the building. The museum plans to include 1,650 square feet of collections storage in the new wing and to convert 1,000 square feet of space in the existing building to collections storage. In addition, a 2,000 square foot, multi-use study center with open storage is planned for the museum’s new wing and will allow visitors direct access to the collections.