October 1, 2002
WITH CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE,
HILLYER ART LIBRARY REOPENS IN SMITH COLLEGE'S BROWN FINE ARTS
Library's New Design Features
Elegant Views and Improved Access
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Editor's note: An online press
kit about the Brown Fine Arts Center, including images and fact
sheets, can be found at www.smith.edu/bfac. To
arrange interviews or tours, call Laurie Fenlason at (413) 585-2190.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-Smith College's
renowned art library and art department have a distinguished
new home-the newly named Brown Fine Arts Center-thanks to the
completion of a two-year, $35-million building renovation and
expansion. At its outset, the renovation was the largest capital
project in the college's 122-year history.
Led by New York City-based Polshek Partnership Architects, the
renovation stripped the former 1972 complex down to its steel
girders and then rebuilt it entirely, transforming its architecture
and infrastructure. The art library and department opened in
early September; the center's other key occupant, the Smith College
Museum of Art, will open in April 2003.
New features of the 164,000-gross-square-foot facility include
a cutting-edge digital imaging center, updated ventilation and
environmental controls and improved galleries and art studios.
The Hillyer Art Library, regarded as among the best art libraries
at American undergraduate institutions, was significantly redesigned.
The new space features a greatly expanded technological infrastructure,
a dramatic aesthetic overhaul and improved access to library
Art Library Benefits from Renovation
The new 16,200-gross-square-foot
Hillyer Art Library, one of three branch libraries at Smith,
illustrates the building's new aesthetic, with its dramatic,
two-story glass curtain wall revealing stunning views of the
campus, including its main green and oldest building, College
Hall. The floor-to-ceiling glass opens up the library's main
patron space, which seats 100 at tables, carrels and easy chairs.
All seats have power and data, as part of the new building's
"With its glass curtain wall, the library affords a sweeping
view of the green in the daytime and provides a dramatic point
of illumination at night," notes art librarian Barbara Polowy,
one of the campus leaders who has driven the building's renovation.
At Smith, Polowy has served as art librarian since 1996, supervising
the Hillyer Art Library staff and overseeing its collections
Used by scholars throughout New England, Hillyer Art Library
provides broad-based coverage of the history, theory, criticism
and practice of the visual arts. Highlights from its extensive
collection include Renaissance art and architecture as well as
notable strength in Greek, Roman, Asian and Medieval art.
The collections support teaching and research in almost all fields
of art and include extensive microform holdings, such as American
Architectural Books, the Marbuger Index, the Biblioteca
Cicognara and a broad range of electronic resources. The library
is open to the public, with 30,000 items circulating annually
within the Smith community. Open 96 hours per week during the
academic year, the library services 1,000 visitors a day during
The library's new design blends beauty with practicality, as
it emphasizes improved access to staff and materials, something
that busy students and scholars will appreciate as they check
out and use materials, notes Polowy.
Specific upgrades to Hillyer Art Library include:
- Completely redesigned service desk
and staff areas, featuring staff space opening up to public areas
via glass, increasing visibility and access; space for 1,500
course reserve items; two service workstations expediting check-out
of library materials;
- A periodicals area featured prominently
on the first floor, providing comfortable seating and an accessible
display of new journals, magazines, and museum serials;
- A reconfiguration of the reference
collection into low shelving for convenience and an uninterrupted
view of the first floor;
- A new exhibit case in the entrance
area promoting special materials in the collection.
"Thanks to the renovation, the
library staff is more accessible. In the old space, students
felt like they were approaching Oz, due to the winding, long
corridors that led to our offices. Now, our staff area opens
out onto the public, fostering communication," explains
Polowy, who has served on the Art Libraries Society of America's
executive board and is currently reviews editor for Art Documentation
and Art Libraries Journal.
Art at Smith
At Smith, the study of art-which
encompasses art history, studio art and architecture-consistently
ranks among the college's three most popular majors. Smith alumnae
include numerous prominent leaders in the visual arts, some of
whom have led major American museums, made significant scholarly
contributions to the field of art and hold leading private collections.
More background about the new Brown Fine Arts Center is available
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost
liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state
and 55 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's
college in the United States.