The modern Spurlock Museum as we know it today looked significantly different and had many different forms since the foundation of the museum was erected back in 1911. From 1911 until 2002, the museum operated from Lincoln Hall's fourth floor, and took on various names and merged different museums at the university. The University's Classical Museum and European Culture Museum were the pioneers, and the stood alone on Lincoln Hall's fourth floor until a third institution, The Oriental and Archaeology Museum was also established. The three museums would eventually be combined in 1954, and as a more secular representation of artifacts were exhibited, it eventually became known as the World Heritage Museum in 1971. Still operating out of Lincoln Halls fourth floor, it wasn't until 1990 that the University received a donation to construct a separate building for what would eventually become The Spurlock Museum; named after the donors, William and Clarice Spurlock. The new state of the art building, designed by Nagle Hartray Architecture, broke ground in 1998, as museum curators prepared and planned for the permanent exhibits which would be on display in the new building on Gregory Street, where it stands today. The new, state of the art building was opened in 2002 after closing its doors for four years
BUILDING DESIGN INTENTIONS
As the World Heritage Museum's reputation grew, the museum's collection grew with it as people were eager to donate artifacts to the institution. However, with over 45,000 objects, the museum would have to expand if it were to gain more credibility and make the exhibits more accessible to the public, and that's something that was able to happen thanks to public funding and support in 1990. The museum as it stands today is very open with a lot of room to walk, where in the old Lincoln Hall location, space would have been scarce considering the collection size and it's steady growth.
BUILDING TYPE + PROGRAM
The museum and architects wanted to create a space that would convey the stories and meaning of the exhibits they were displaying, and they went about that by creating this 53,000 square feet, 1 and 2 story hybrid building that helps accentuate the artifacts on display from all over the world. The building contains a large atrium with large open windows on a lot of the building's sides with a winding staircase that lead up to exhibits on a raised exhibit floor. Natural light comes in through these windows as well. With an open floor plan separated by scattered museum walls, the viewer is free to walk from exhibit to exhibit; some temporary, some not. It contains a large auditorium, Knight Auditorium, which located on the west side and is a site for lectures of local and visiting scholars, as well as other social events. There are two large exhibit rooms on the east and south sides with smaller, open air rooms toward the center of the building.
FIRM PHILOSOPHY / HISTORY
Nagle Hartray Architecture firm earned a reputation for exceptional service characterized by award-winning design, technical expertise, and sound project management. These have remained the firm's core values as the practice has matured (naglehartray.com). Using these core ideas, Nagle Hartray organized galleries into connected pavilions arranged in pinwheel fashion around a central core that defines common cultural themes. The Core is a touchstone to visitors as they circulate between galleries. Through the Spurlock Museum's design, Nagle Hartray wanted to illustrate that galleries are essentially open boxes for flexibility in arranging exhibits.
Nagle Hartray Architecture Firm have completed:
Fountaindale Public Library, Bolingbrook, IL
Oak Park Public Library, Oak Park, IL
Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL
Midway Plaisance Ice Rink, Chicago, IL