Starting January of 2018, the Newberry will launch an exciting renovation project to expand our community of learning into new parts of the library. In transforming our first floor, we’re creating new opportunities for visitors to interact with collections and staff just a few steps after entering the building!
The renovation will result in both redesigned and brand-new spaces, such as an information center where visitors can learn about the Newberry and register as readers; a climate-controlled seminar room allowing classes and other groups to handle maps, books, manuscripts, and other collection items; and a permanent exhibition gallery showcasing collection highlights.
Take a Look Inside
We’re fostering a vibrant first-floor environment where scholars and lifelong learners can jump right into the humanities, whether it’s through exhibits, public programs, or hands-on research using our collection.
Browse these architectural renderings of the new and redesigned spaces. Please note that the renderings reflect the essential elements of these spaces; some of the details may change as our planning continues.
Take a Look Outside
Welcoming visitors into our building starts outside, and continues into the entry. We’re envisioning a new landscape featuring digital signage, an accessible entrance to the east of our front doors, and reduced fencing that will contribute to a more inviting atmosphere. At night, exterior lighting will accent the beautiful architectural details of our building, which was designed in the early 1890s by Henry Ives Cobb.
The needs of researchers have changed dramatically; so have the ways in which the public uses libraries and other cultural institutions. As technology changes and the expectations among our patrons evolve, renovating our first floor is essential to providing visitors with new pathways into the Newberry’s collection. In addition, this renovation will enable us to continue serving our collection users at the highest level and adapt to their needs over time.
To accomplish these goals, we’re fostering a more welcoming environment that will invite visitors to engage with us, our collections, and with one another right after walking through our doors. The new and updated spaces will include an information center, permanent exhibition gallery, redesigned gallery for temporary exhibitions, expanded bookstore, and a lounge area.
Construction will last six months, from early January 2018 through June 2018.
The renovation project will cost an estimated $11 million, and will be funded entirely by generous gifts from Newberry donors. We have already raised 40% of the required funds at this time. If you are interested in making a gift to support the project, please contact Katy Orenchuk, Vice President for Development, at (312) 255-3560.
This project is part of a larger campaign that will build on the renovation’s goals by investing in library staff; new public programming and exhibition opportunities; and digital, cataloging, and archival initiatives to expand the availability of our materials and the tools for discovering them.
The renovation is being designed by Ann Beha Architects, an award-winning firm with extensive experience updating cultural institutions while staying true to the historic legacies of their buildings.
Access to the collection will not be impeded in any way. We will keep our regular reading room hours during construction, and will continue to offer extended hours for Fellows and Scholars-in-Residence.
We will continue to offer these presentations. However, temporary space constraints during construction will limit the number of class visits we can accommodate. If you’d like to inquire about bringing your class to the Newberry to view our collection, please use the Group Visit Request Form on our website.
The Newberry Bookstore will be closed while it is redesigned, expanded, and relocated to a different part of our first floor (the space currently occupied by the Smith exhibition gallery). When the bookstore reopens at the end of construction (June 2018), it will allow visitors to browse its selection of books and other gifts in greater comfort. An adjoining lounge area will provide guests with space where they can read, use wi-fi, or have a cup of coffee.
We plan to offer a variety of public programs during construction. We will do so by continuing to use Ruggles Hall (access to which will be interrupted for only a week or so in June 2018) and by making use of other parts of our building. Unfortunately, the scope of the renovation—which calls for redesigned thematic galleries and a new permanent exhibition gallery—will prohibit us from opening any public exhibitions in the first half of 2018.
The seminar classrooms will be redesigned as part of the renovation. Therefore, we will relocate the adult education seminars to other parts of the building during construction. Since the seminars will be located upstairs, beyond the security perimeter in our lobby, seminar participants may be asked to observe the policies regarding food, bags, and coats that apply to the upper floors. We’re exploring options for providing access to the upper floors that minimizes the inconvenience to visitors and ensures the security of our collections. As soon as we know more about these arrangements, we will make them publicly available.
The Newberry will continue to host weddings and other special events, though the scope of the project will create limitations. Ruggles Hall will remain available, as will our wedding suite and restrooms. The lobby, however, will be a significant part of the 2018 project and will be unable to accommodate events. Please contact our Events Office for more information: (312) 255-3605.
Yes, we will!