The final touches are still being put on the new Class of ’54 Environmental Sciences Facility, but at least one of its future tenants is already eagerly anticipating the big move-in.
The Peabody Museum of Natural History will occupy part of the space in the building, which is the latest in the series of Yale’s extensive Science Hill reconstruction projects. Over half of the new building will act as the permanent home for some of the museum’s most delicate collections.
“This is a very important development in the Peabody Museum’s history,” museum Coordinator Melanie Brigockas said.
The new building, which will be dedicated Oct. 26 after the recent finish of construction, is designed to replace the old Bingham Laboratory.
Designed as an interdisciplinary environmental sciences facility, the new building will accommodate office and classroom space that will be shared by the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geology and Geophysics, and Anthropology departments, as well as the School of Forestry. The new facility will also house molecular and isotopic laboratories that will be used primarily to analyze parts of the museum collections.
At 98,000 square feet, the building is almost twice as large as the old Bingham Laboratory that once occupied the site.
The new building is architecturally similar to the Peabody Museum, but the inside has at least one major difference — it is specially designed with the Peabody Museum’s most delicate collections in mind.
“The new building provides us with a core of environmentally controlled rooms,” museum Director Richard Burger said. “It is designed with the environmental parameters that these collections need.”
The current Peabody Museum building, which has been in continuous use since 1927, had become unable to provide the stable conditions necessary for the most delicate artifacts in the museum’s 11 million piece collection.
“The current building was definitely not designed for collection storage or study,” Burger said. “The fluctuating temperatures and humidity provided some of the worst possible conditions to preserve our collections in perpetuity.”
While the move-in has been going smoothly, the construction process did affect the museum. Many of the Peabody’s specimens that had previously been housed in Bingham Laboratory had to be moved and placed into storage at the museum during the construction.
Although this transfer caused some of the museum’s most popular exhibits to be dismantled, the operation of the museum’s programs generally was unhindered.
“The construction process created problems in terms of having less to see in the museum,” Burger said. “But we made a special effort to have more events and not to close the museum.”
Museum attendance actually increased during the construction process, Burger added.
He also said he hopes the new building will also allow innovation in the museum’s main location.
“I hope that with the areas that have now been vacated for collections, we can find other purposes for them,” Burger said. “The numerous possibilities for reorganizing the spaces have great possibilities for the future.”