$2 million renovation underway at Berkshire Museum


Photo Gallery: Berkshire Museum renovations

PITTSFIELD -- The Berkshire Museum is in the midst of a $2 million renovation project that will shut down elevator service over the next two to three months, though the museum will remain open.

The work could temporally disrupt some galleries, museum Executive Director Van Shields said. Among the renovation highlights are a new elevator, sprinkler system and energy efficient windows.

The current elevator dates back to the 1930s, and requires the elevator to be operated by a licensed employee, Shields said. State regulations require that non-automatic elevators have a licensed operator. Currently, other employees at the museum have to take time from their other jobs to operate the elevator when needed, Shields said.

The new elevator will allow museum visitors to operate the elevator themselves. It will also be energy efficient, Shields said.

The museum, constructed in 1903, will also have new digital lighting and acoustic insulation tiles are also part of the renovations. The new windows will replace the originals, Shields said.

The work is expected to continue through May. Some galleries may be affected by the work for short periods, Shields said.

"When it will be done, it will be a much better environment all the way around," he said.

This is the second phase of its renovations. The first phase, to install new humidity controls in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, started last fall and is almost completed, Shields said.

The renovations are being paid for in part by a $1 million U.S. Department of Energy Grant, which the museum must match. The state is also funding part of the project.

"The project is going forward, and we are still raising money to fund the project," Shields said.

The energy efficient renovations "will reduce our annual operating cost," he said. Renovations to the theater and aquarium could happen over the next few years, though no plans have yet been made, Shields said.

Shields said the organization's operations are paid for through contributions by the community and businesses. The museum will be honoring several community members and philanthropists with the Berkshire Awards on March 21.

To reach Nathan Mayberg:
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