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A fresh look at the Pomona College Museum of Art

Construction for Pomona College’s new art museum on College Avenue between Second Street and Bonita Avenue began last November, and is progressing according to plan. Project manager Brian Faber said the $44 million project is expected to be completed in June of 2019.

For years, Pomona’s art museum has been housed in a small facility on the corner of Bonita and College, with much of the art in storage because there was no space to display it. The museum has had to turn away art donations, and can’t host traveling exhibits because it lacks proper temperature and humidity controls.

“Anybody who has great art requires certain parameters for them to use it, borrow it, tow it, whatever it may be,” Mr. Faber explained. “You have to have certain protocols.”

The new museum, which was approved by the city council last year despite some community backlash, will be more expansive, with several galleries and a large vault with industry-standard settings to protect the art.

An average of 45 workers, employed by Hathaway Dinwiddie and its sub-contractors, are on the site each day starting at 7 a.m., and appear to be making swift progress.

The walls of one gallery on the north side have already been built, and Mr. Faber says workers are now making the room watertight before moving onto electrical, mechanical and plumbing issues on the interior.

Elsewhere on the site, workers are busy building an exterior wall facing the library and excavating the hole that will become the museum’s vault.

Though “rain’s never good with construction,” and there have been a few noise complaints, Mr. Faber reports no major setbacks or issues since workers accidentally ruptured a high-pressure gas line last November, necessitating evacuations of nearby Pomona residence halls and the library. The line was repaired later that night. Mr. Faber doesn’t anticipate any other surprises, and said construction is on-schedule.

“I think generally, we’ve done pretty well,” he said.

But Vicky-Marie Addo-Ashong, a Pomona sophomore who lives in Wig Hall, right across the street from the construction, says nearly everyone in her hall has complained about the noise, which can become an issue as early as 7 a.m., she said.

“I get woken up a little early sometimes—I’m not sure how far into the day it continues because I spend a lot of time out of my room, but it’s definitely a feature every single morning,” she wrote to the COURIER.

Mr. Faber said his role as project manager entails visiting the site most days and making sure workers “have the right information and can do their jobs effectively.”

“Everyone has their idea of how they want [something] to get done. It doesn’t always match the other person’s idea,” he said. “Generally, they work together and figure it out. When they can’t work together, then they give me a call.”

Laura Rowley, Pomona’s executive assistant for facilities and campus services, said about $13 million has been spent so far on museum construction, and expects the project to “continue on time and on budget without unforeseen costs.”

The eventual art museum will have two entrances — one on Bonita and another on College. A glass hallway “art walk” running from Bonita to Second Street will connect two larger buildings, and will include “sculptures and light-tolerant art,” according to previous reporting by the COURIER.

A three-foot wall on the east side of the library parking lot will be replaced with hedges and trees. The art museum will have a red clay tile roof and red cedar columns, consistent with both Pomona architecture and nearby buildings like city hall.

—Kellen Browning