Education Center and Research Library

Education Center and Research Library

JOIN US for a special groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, May 19th, 4:00 pm

For more information on the Campaign to Build the Education Center and Research Library, please contact Alison Smart, Senior Director of Development, at (508) 717-6815.

BUILDING A Transformative Experience Brochure (PDF download)

Following 5 years of study, it is the strong conviction of Trustees that for programmatic, organizational, fiduciary and mission-focused reasons, the Museum must build an Education Center and Research Library contiguous to its existing complex on Johnny Cake Hill.  The Museum owns the entire block, though 3 parcels of land are vacant.  This new Center will allow the Museum to meet its dramatically expanding programming needs. Importantly, it will also serve to consolidate the Museum’s holdings onto one campus, with significant long-term staffing and operational efficiencies.

The addition is a capstone project which pulls together the Museum’s most critical programs - providing the classroom space demanded by the success of the K-12 and apprentice programs, consolidating the collection and research library under one roof, facilitating the development of a digital library and distance learning capability, and broadening the flow of exhibits through more and better allocation of space. 

The Trustees have discussed at great length how best an institution such as ours, in a community like New Bedford, can most usefully apportion its resources: when and in what amount capital investment in bricks and mortar is justified and when and how a museum can be shown to operate with optimal efficiency. We believe that we have arrived at an inspiring and practical solution that will ensure both continuance of our mission and equip the institution to best serve its communities.

The Educational Center and Research Library will be a 4-floor 20,000 sq. ft. building. Each floor will tie into the existing 4 levels of the Museum. The ground floor will provide street access plus large object display and lab space for our High School Apprenticeship Program; the 2nd floor will connect with our climate controlled vaults and securely house the Museum’s library and object collections; the 3rd floor will be dedicated to classroom and reading room functions; and the 4th level will serve as multi-use assembly space for educational activities, conferences and events. Trustees and staff have worked with architects over 3 years to arrive at this configuration. We believe it best aligns function and flow, plus provides an allowance for future growth.

View from Johnny Cake Hill

View from Johnny Cake Hill (above)
View from Water Street (below)


Top Twelve Reasons for building a new
Educational Center and Research Library

Building Expansion Diagram

1 Quadruple educational classroom space  2 Dedicate space for the innovative High School Apprenticeship Program  3 Launch a distance-learning program that leverages digitization of the Collection  4 Expand the roof-deck overlooking New Bedford Harbor  5 Beautify Water Street by building on a vacant lot  6 Install climate-control systems throughout the entire Johnny Cake Hill campus  7 Bring all staff and volunteers under one roof  8 Enhance the visitor experience with a cohesive floor-plan  9 Add four new galleries to display more of the Collection  10 Accentuate the profile of the 1916 Bourne Building with a tiered landscaped plaza  11 Gain efficiencies and energy savings by relocating the research library to a modern facility  12 Expand access to the Research Library by consolidating into the Johnny Cake Hill campus.

Last Modified: April 24, 2014