Davis Museum and
106 Central Street
José Rafael Moneo, 1993
A severe red-brick mass from the
outside, a light and exciting exhibition space from the inside, the Davis Museum and
Cultural Center houses a 61,000-square foot museum along with a cinema, café and
administration and conservations spaces. It is built opposite the 1958 Jewett Art Center,
with which it completes a plaza. As Moneo describes it,
'The mass of the new museum was to be very
simple-much more radical than the delicately crafted mass of Jewett. This cubic space
could be understood as a coffer, presenting all at once the pieces in the collection.'
The dramatic approach to the Davis
Museum from beneath the Jewett is below; the cinema is in the low-level block on the left,
with the museum behind the massive blank red-brick wall on the right, whose scale becomes
apparent only as you emerge from under the earlier building.
The dramatic sawtooth windows covering the roof of the building provide natural light for
all floors of the museum. Bright exhibition spaces on each floor contrast with more
enclosed paths between each floor - stairways with treads so shallow they feel like
walkways, with beautifully finished wood walls emerging into the next open and
naturally-lit exhibition floor.
The attractive airiness of the
museum was emphasised on my visit by the total absence of other visitors, despite an
impressive if eclectic art collection spanning from ancient Chinese pottery to modern
Simon Glynn, 1999
How to visit
The museum is open to the
public, with free admission and car parking.
The museum is in the Wellesley
College campus in central Wellesley, about 45 minutes from Boston. Take the I90 west, then
I95 (Route 128) south, then Route 16 west into central Wellesley. In the center, take
Route 135 west (Central Street); Wellesley College is on your left. Follow signposts to
find the right one of multiple entrances and the car parking for the museum.
More detailed information on how to get there,
including public transportation, is provided by Wellesley College.
The museum is open every day
except Mondays. To check times and up-to-date visiting information call +1 781 283 2051.