On February 9, the in West Palm Beach will reopen after a major redesign and expansion by Foster + Partners that added 35 percent more gallery space, dramatic new features including an oculus-topped great hall, and the first sculpture garden ever designed for a museum by Lord Norman Foster.
The updated South Florida institution, which opened in 1941, is known for its world-class permanent collection of over 7,000 works, spanning several centuries and continents, by artists including Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Lorna Simpson, and Donald Judd. The transformed museum will feature a grand new 57,000-square-foot wing and a complete reinstallation of the permanent collection. Norton Museum Trustee Gil Maurer, director of the Hearst Foundations and a member of the board of directors of Hearst, Siweb's parent company, helped to oversee the ambitious overhaul.
To celebrate the occasion, the Norton will reopen with eight concurrent special exhibitions of the works of Nina Chanel Abney, Ralston Crawford, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, as well as themed photography, watercolor, and 16th-century Chinese lantern shows.
In expanding the Norton, Pritzker Prize-laureate Foster was respectful of original architect Marion Sims Wyeth’s Art Deco-inspired museum campus, which featured a series of pavilions organized around a central courtyard. Foster + Partners relocated the main entrance to the west, giving it a distinctive presence on the main thoroughfare of S. Dixie Highway, while creating a new entry courtyard centered on a reflecting pool and Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s sculpture Typewriter Eraser, Scale X (1999) sheltered by a metal canopy that floats 45 feet beyond the building’s façade.
Foster took care to preserve a majestic 80-year-old, 65-foot-tall banyan tree outside the museum. It is visible from the new great hall, a 3,600-square-foot, 44-foot-tall space that incorporates lounge seating, a piano, a ceiling oculus, and walls for temporary exhibitions—the first of which is a massive tapestry woven in Belgium by the American artist Pae White.
The expansion also includes 12,000 square feet of new gallery space for exhibits, including shows by women artists and emerging photographers, along with a new restaurant and the new William Randolph Hearst Education Center, with classrooms and a student gallery. Meanwhile, the 37,200-square-foot sculpture garden, which borders the museum on the south and east side, incorporates native, subtropical plantings, a great lawn, and outdoor “gallery rooms” centered on contemporary sculpture.