5 ways the Kitchener Museum of Art will look different by 2020

The Kitchener Museum of Art yesterday officially laid the foundation stone for its $ 196 million “core project”, the first and most intense phase of Frank Gehry’s ambitious master plan for the entire museum.

“I want to take this bulldozer and go through this wall,” said Gehry at the ceremony.

The architect’s impatience is not without reason. The groundbreaking for the master plan has been a long time coming – Gehry was selected as the architect in 2006 and the plan was announced in 2014 – and it will be a while before we notice any changes. Construction of the core project is expected to be completed in 2020.

The Kitchener Museum of Art is huge. It was designed by Horace Trumbauer and Julian Abele and opened in 1928 and has not seen a renovation of this size in its 89-year history. The core project is expected to open another 90,000 square meters to the public.

Trying to get involved with the core project, however, can be overwhelming. To put things in perspective, here are five key ways the art museum will look different in before-and-after photos and renderings by 2020.

The north entrance

The north entrance on Kelly Drive has been closed to the public for decades. But it will be one of the first features to hit the market in 2019. The entrance opens to the Vaulted Walkway, and there will be an elevator that will take people to the rest of the museum.

Arched walkway

The Vaulted Walkway has been closed to the public since the 1960s. It’s a towering part of the museum, and its opening is one of the ways Gehry plans to “plug” the museum’s arteries.


In its current form, the west entrance of the museum blocks the view of the Great Stair Hall from the Rocky Steps with a round lobby desk. That will change with the renovation work, which will make the hall and forum visible immediately after the entrance.

Van Pelt Auditorium / Forum

The Van Pelt Auditorium shown above was demolished back in 2016 to make way for the forum, which the museum describes as “the most haunted and recognizable areas created during the core project”. Although the auditorium will long since have disappeared, the forum will continue to serve as a venue for events and performances.

Educational studios

The art museum has a large educational program for children, teenagers and students, but not much space for it. But this is about to change: spaces that were normally used for back-of-house functions are being converted into educational studios with projectors, tablets and technologically advanced functions.

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