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Cape Cod Museum of Art

Civic / Resort

The Cape Cod Museum of Art, located in the Old King's Highway Historic District of Dennis, required more gallery and administrative space and a new image consistent with its growing importance as a regional arts institution. Founded in 1980, the museum houses permanent collections and traveling exhibits of work by regional artists past and present, yet its physical plant had grown inadequate to house and display its growing collection. PSD designed and built the extensive renovations and additions to the original museum with the goal of transforming a random assemblage of utilitarian buildings into a functional, physical and aesthetic whole. The original museum buildings were donated by a Harwichport art collector and relocated to a site within the campus that includes the Cape Playhouse, Cape Cinema and Cape Playhouse Restaurant.

A new arcade—created to span and unify the building’s front facade—serves to organize entry functions and also provides a covered exterior space for museum functions. Major elements of the new building were oriented to welcome the visitor, and designed to elevate the building’s physical and cultural stature within its immediate and regional contexts. Views across the new sculpture garden encompass the new Hart–Signore Sculpture Gallery, a space created by enclosing an existing porch with a glass curtain wall. This gallery effects a transition between the more formal spaces of the museum’s interior, and the casual feel of the outdoor garden.

In 2008/2009, the museum mounted an exhibit of PSD’s work that described not only examples of finished work but also of the design process that led to it. The firm designed the exhibition along with Curator Michael Giaquinto. It was installed in a top-lit gallery space that PSD designed and built as a part of extensive renovations and additions. The objects in the show included conceptual sketches, hand-drafted schematic design drawings, renderings, models, text describing the design process, mock-ups of actual building components, a video slideshow, finished building photography, and an actual weather vane and a custom table. The exhibition garnered one of the largest attendance records ever set at the museum. Associated with the exhibit was a house tour of five PSD houses. Over 1,000 tickets were sold, more than three times the amount of any other of the annual tours the museum had sponsored prior. In 2013 PSD sponsored a second house tour that raised over $60,000 for the museum.