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Boston-Area Cultural Institutions: the Most Recent Renovations

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Several cultural institutions in the Boston area, including major museums, New England's largest aquarium, and the world's oldest commissioned battleship, have either wrapped major renovations in the past three years or will do so pretty soon. As part of Renovation Week, we've mapped this work. And we have come to one conclusion: There is so much to do here.

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1. Monk's Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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280 Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 566-1401
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The museum unveiled Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates' redesign of the famed greenery in late 2013. According to the Gardner, said redesign is meant "to interpret the museum’s meandering gallery layout, and the rich colors and textures of its idiosyncratic collection, in a contemporary landscape context"

2. New England Aquarium

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1 Central Wharf
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 973-5200
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The aquarium completed its biggest renovation ever in 2013, including a top-to-bottom redo of its Giant Ocean Tank, which is exactly what it sounds like: a four-story, 200,000-gallon tank. The renovation replaced the 52 viewing windows and allowed the tank to raise its capacity from about 700 fish to around 1,000.

3. Harvard Art Museums

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32 Quincy St
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-9400
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The university unveiled the Renzo Piano redesign in late 2015. Its main focus was an extension upward of the Italian Renaissance-style courtyard in the original Fogg Museum portion. A steel-and-glass pyramid now crowns it, flooding the below floors with natural light.

4. Tenshin-en at the Museum of Fine Arts

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465 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115

The "Garden of the Heart of Heaven" reopened at the MFA in the spring of 2015, following an 18-month renovation. The museum updated paving, irrigation, drainage, and lighting at the garden; and shipped in truckloads of granite gravel from North Carolina.

5. Yawkey Gallery of the Museum of Science

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11 Museum Of Science Driveway
Boston, MA 02114

The permanent exhibition opened in late March of 2016. According to the museum, it is meant to explore "the intersection of natural and engineered worlds through the lens of the Charles River." The three-story gallery is also part of larger renovations at the museum that are expected to wrap this summer. That work will create a new entryway to the exhibit halls and provide digitized signage, among other upgrades.

6. Johnson Building of the Boston Public Library

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700 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 536-5400
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A three-year, multi-phase renovation of the 1972 wing designed by the late Philip Johnson is expected to come to an end this summer. The end result? A more modernized and inviting branch, plus a new connection between the Johnson Building and the older McKim wing.

7. Colonial Theatre at Emerson College

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106 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116

The college had considered turning the 115-year-old theater into a dining-hall-dominated student activity center, but vociferous opposition scotched those plans. The Colonial will instead remain a venue for the performing arts. It does need some work, though, including re: its heat and air-conditioning as well as a possible expansion of its orchestra pit. Stay tuned.

8. U.S.S. Constitution

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Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, MA 02129
(617) 426-1812
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The world's oldest commissioned battleship entered drydock in the spring of 2015 to commence three years of repairs. The work is meant to preserve the 2,286-ton ship from its upper masts to the waterline, according to the Navy.

1. Monk's Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

280 Fenway, Boston, MA 02115

The museum unveiled Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates' redesign of the famed greenery in late 2013. According to the Gardner, said redesign is meant "to interpret the museum’s meandering gallery layout, and the rich colors and textures of its idiosyncratic collection, in a contemporary landscape context"

280 Fenway
Boston, MA 02115

2. New England Aquarium

1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110

The aquarium completed its biggest renovation ever in 2013, including a top-to-bottom redo of its Giant Ocean Tank, which is exactly what it sounds like: a four-story, 200,000-gallon tank. The renovation replaced the 52 viewing windows and allowed the tank to raise its capacity from about 700 fish to around 1,000.

1 Central Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

3. Harvard Art Museums

32 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138

The university unveiled the Renzo Piano redesign in late 2015. Its main focus was an extension upward of the Italian Renaissance-style courtyard in the original Fogg Museum portion. A steel-and-glass pyramid now crowns it, flooding the below floors with natural light.

32 Quincy St
Cambridge, MA 02138

4. Tenshin-en at the Museum of Fine Arts

465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115

The "Garden of the Heart of Heaven" reopened at the MFA in the spring of 2015, following an 18-month renovation. The museum updated paving, irrigation, drainage, and lighting at the garden; and shipped in truckloads of granite gravel from North Carolina.

465 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115

5. Yawkey Gallery of the Museum of Science

11 Museum Of Science Driveway, Boston, MA 02114

The permanent exhibition opened in late March of 2016. According to the museum, it is meant to explore "the intersection of natural and engineered worlds through the lens of the Charles River." The three-story gallery is also part of larger renovations at the museum that are expected to wrap this summer. That work will create a new entryway to the exhibit halls and provide digitized signage, among other upgrades.

11 Museum Of Science Driveway
Boston, MA 02114

6. Johnson Building of the Boston Public Library

700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

A three-year, multi-phase renovation of the 1972 wing designed by the late Philip Johnson is expected to come to an end this summer. The end result? A more modernized and inviting branch, plus a new connection between the Johnson Building and the older McKim wing.

700 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116

7. Colonial Theatre at Emerson College

106 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

The college had considered turning the 115-year-old theater into a dining-hall-dominated student activity center, but vociferous opposition scotched those plans. The Colonial will instead remain a venue for the performing arts. It does need some work, though, including re: its heat and air-conditioning as well as a possible expansion of its orchestra pit. Stay tuned.

106 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116

8. U.S.S. Constitution

Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA 02129

The world's oldest commissioned battleship entered drydock in the spring of 2015 to commence three years of repairs. The work is meant to preserve the 2,286-ton ship from its upper masts to the waterline, according to the Navy.

Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, MA 02129