Museum of Fine Arts hosts ribbon cutting for new atrium

June 12, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • The new Anne G. and Howard S. Kaylor Atrium opened Sunday at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Before Sunday’s ribbon cutting for the new Anne G. and Howard S. Kaylor Atrium at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Howard Kaylor said he told the museum’s director that she forgot to schedule a rain date for the ceremony.

“Forgetting, for an instant, that it doesn’t matter anymore,” said Kaylor, pointing to the atrium’s skylight ceiling.

So when the rains did come, midway through the ceremony, no one had to go running for cover.

It was such weather that led to the major renovation of the Cushwa Courtyard, which sits in the center of the museum in City Park. The courtyard’s use was limited because of weather that was too hot, too cold or too wet, Kaylor said.

Kaylor and his wife donated $1 million toward the project, according to a plaque on display during the ceremony.

The museum raised about $2.6 million for the project, with approximately $2 million going toward construction, said Tom Newcomer, past president of the museum’s board of trustees. That left about $600,000 for an endowment to help with incidentals and continuing costs for the atrium, such as utilities, he said.

The endowment also will pay for a cafe cart, which is expected soon in the courtyard, Newcomer said. Patrons will be able to sit in the courtyard, drink coffee, have something to eat and access Wi-Fi, he said. The atrium is expected to host events such as concerts and lectures.

The project had about 190 donors, Newcomer said.

The Barr Family and Ellsworth Electric donated more than $100,000 in-kind, covering all the electrical work, Newcomer said.

Other major donors were the Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Foundation, Dr. Henry and Florence Hill Graff, the Hamilton Family Foundation, the Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Foundation, the state and Washington County.

More than 100 people attended the ribbon cutting on Sunday afternoon.

The courtyard was created with the museum’s 1994 addition, Museum Board President Brad Pingrey said.

Having the courtyard surrounded by the building made construction interesting, said Greg Brown, president of Waynesboro Construction. To demolish the courtyard floor, jackhammers and small rams on skid loaders were brought into the courtyard via the museum’s elevator and a short trip through the hallway into the courtyard.

The main feature of the atrium is the skylight ceiling with a steel frame that results in diamond-shaped skylights.

To comply with Maryland Historical Trust guidelines, the atrium’s skylight ceiling could not be load-bearing on the old museum building, so several new steel columns were built around the courtyard, project officials said. The columns are covered with limestone to blend in with the decor.

The atrium was designed by Todd Grove of Murphy and Dittenhafter Architects in Baltimore and York, Pa., according to a museum news release.

A new roof area and enclosure were built on the old roof to house new heating and cooling units, Brown said. The 3,000-square-foot atrium has radiant heating in the floor.

With the new atrium, the museum will reopen the original west doors to the museum, which stand in the courtyard, Museum Director Rebecca Massie Lane said.

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