Peabody Welcomes Back Work Duty Students As it Enters Final Stages of Renovation

Students and faculty returned to the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology after the museum received its Certificate of Occupancy this past Friday. Though the museum has not officially reopened to the general public, classes and work duty groups now can return to the museum as it wraps up the final stages of renovation. Planned renovations included the addition of a second stairwell, a wheelchair-accessible entryway and handicap-accessible restroom to the building. Once the renovations were in progress however, renovators also decided to add new light fixtures, renovate the second floor ceiling, refurbish floors and repaint walls. Malinda Blustain, Director of the Peabody Museum said, “It’s a beautiful, beautiful space. By [the] time [renovations are done], we’ll be very glad to reclaim our building. It will have taken a long time and it was very much of a mess here, but it will be certainly worth it.” Many light fixtures were changed in the building though their replacement had not been part of the original renovation plan. “Lighting was a big adjustment [to the plan] along the way,” explained Larry Muench, Director of Facilities. “The light levels in the library and the light levels in the first-floor classroom were insufficient as measured by the town inspectors. That was an aftereffect [that] wasn’t foreseen initially.” Wall sconces were placed in the new stairwell, and the old fluorescent lights in the library and art deco lights in the classroom downstairs were both replaced by brighter pendant lights. The renovation team decided to restore the library’s original ceiling, which had been covered up by acoustic ceiling tiles, to add height and space to the room. Because the building’s hardwood floors were damaged during renovation process they will be refinished. Currently the museum is reorganizing some walls and repainting the interior, a “long overdue,” process according to Blustain. “There are some parts of the building that probably haven’t been painted for at least 60 years,” she said. “It’s a big job to paint this building.” The museum was also pleased with the addition of a new stairwell. Prior to the renovations, Muench said fire safety inspectors could not allow classes or gatherings in the second-floor library because the room had only one means of egress. Blustain said the addition of the stairwell was “probably one of the greatest structural modifications the museum has ever seen.” She explained, “The museum was not designed with any kind of ramps and so it was necessary for visitors to climb four or five steps to get up to the entrance of the building.” “We’re hoping that people who couldn’t come in before will now be able to and have access to the classroom and the exhibits,” she continued. During the renovations, particularly delicate artifacts were permanently moved to a new storage area in the museum. Muench noted that the project was more challenging because the museum housed artifacts during the renovation. He said, “A lot of protection was installed to protect the interior spaces, but [Blustain’s] team did a fabulous job of protecting the artifacts. They were there for almost all the construction, ensuring that the contractors weren’t working near anything they shouldn’t.” Renovations were made possible by a gift from Marshall Cloyd ’58. Blustain said that the Peabody spent less than half of Cloyd’s gift on the recent renovations. The remainder will go into the museum’s endowment. According to Blustain and Muench, possible changes in the future include the construction of a loading dock, the addition of an elevator, the renewal of the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment, implementation of a fire sprinkler system and improvement of storage areas and air handling equipment for better climate control.