Access for All & More: Blog

Access for All inevitably raises the question, Access to What? The goal of this campaign is not the addition of the elevator in and of itself, but the freedom that having easy movement between floors will give to those looking to enjoy an art exhibition or a musical concert, to participate in a  workshop by local craftspeople or teachers, and/or to consult and share the collections in a way that has never been available before. Construction began this past fall and with your help, the Museum will construct a handsome new addition to the Westwood Road entrance that will contain an elevator to all three floors of the building. For the first time, everyone will be able to travel to the basement, which  will be transformed into a public area containing accessible restrooms and a  multipurpose room for collection care and educational activities. 

We are very grateful for the support of our members, neighbors, donors and special thanks to the Somerville CPC and the CPA (Community Preservation Act) who have helped to fund this project. To learn more about this project and to donate, please visit our Access for All & More page.

Thursday, 6/17/21: This week the construction team made progress on removing the shoring to prep the space for the elevator. While it might not look much different from last week, things are moving right along! The Museum team met with our contractors, designers from Peter Quinn Architects, and our millwork contractor to look at samples and make some design decisions. We chose the materials for our reception desk, kitchenette cabinets, and multi-purpose room. We thought through function, aesthetic, and sustainability and we’re very excited about the sharing the end result! 

We’ve also been busy planning upcoming events. Mark your calendars so you don’t miss out: 

Sunday, June 20, 3-5pm: Somerville Open Studios Reception at the Museum (show runs through 6/27)

Saturday, June 26, 11am: Construction Info Session at the Museum

Thursday, July 1, 4pm: Reading Frederick Douglass at Bow Market

Saturday, July 10: ArtBeat

Thursday, 6/10/21: This week we had a site visit with our Superintendent, Jim, to view the progress of the project. We snapped a pic for scale of our President, Barbara Mangum, next to the big rotating saw that was cutting through the foundation wall. It was amazing to see! The project is progressing nicely and we’re excited about the coming weeks. 

While we were on site we also met with Timothy Alves, a representative from Cambridge Savings Bank to snap some shots of our team with the check representing their donation to the Access for All & More Campaign. We’re grateful to our generous donors and hope to have more of these celebratory photoshoots in the future. Click here to learn more about the initiatives of the campaign and how you can donate to support your local museum. 

Thursday, 6/3/21: This week our construction team started the CMU wall to house the elevator. Our Museum staff also met with Peter Quinn Architect’s design team to review and approve finishes for our millworker. We picked a really clean color for the cabinets in the kitchenette and multi-purpose room. They’re going to look great with the floor tile and wall colors we’ve chosen! We’re still working out the details for the reception desk to make sure it not only serves our needs but those of our visitors. We started walking through all the details from finishes to where the electrical outlets should live. More details to come. 


This was also a busy week for installing our next exhibit, Somerville Open Studios Last Look Show. The Somerville Open Studios (SOS) team did a fantastic job of hanging all the pieces and we can’t wait for opening day – this Saturday, June 5th! For this show you won’t need to preregister for a timed slot, though we will have some restrictions on occupancy. Admission is free to all since it’s sponsored by SOS (donations to the Museum are always welcome). You will still need to wear your mask inside the space to protect those visitors who have not yet been vaccinated. Please also note that we do not have a public restroom at this time since we’re in the middle of construction. Click here to learn more. 

Thursday, 5/27/21: Construction progress moved ahead this week with more rebar and concrete. Details that are necessary for the project but not that exciting to blog about. Meanwhile, we have been amping up our social media presence this week and excited to share updates!

As part of our Access for All & More Campaign we have been collaborating with local businesses to offer fun raffles, prizes and promotions. This week we’re working with Rococo Floral co. in Bow Market to raffle off a free week-night floral workshop for three people. Rococo is a new business and their floral designs and social media feed are fun and fresh. This promotion is really helping to increase the Museum’s brand awareness and Instagram followers. If you haven’t yet followed us on Instagram do that today! And tag a friend to be entered into this awesome raffle. 

In other news, American Legion Post 19 has donated $70,000 towards our campaign! This morning we held a mini photoshoot with the members at the Museum to thank them in person for their enormous generosity. A special shout out to Gene Brune, former Mayor and Museum Trustee, for his relentless efforts to help us raise the necessary funds.

The campaign has currently raised about 1.86m and we still have a bit to go to reach 2.25m to complete this project. You can help. Donate today to help keep the Museum vital for another 100 years! 

Thursday, 5/20/21: This week was every little kid’s construction dream! It was dedicated to the installation and inspection of rebar for the space where the elevator will live. Once the rebar was complete and signed off on the concrete was poured. Trucks, activity – this week had it all! 

While the construction team was working away the Museum staff were full out in event planning, coordination and fundraising! Last night we hosted a new installment of the Voices from Somerville virtual series where we highlighted the Salvadoran community in Somerville. We also made some decisions about our upcoming Reading Frederick Douglass event at Bow Market. We also continued coordinating events and promotions related to our Access for All & More Campaign which is supporting fundraising efforts for this construction project while also raising awareness of the Museum in the city. Join our mailing list and follow us on social media to stay up to date. More exciting updates to come next week! 

Thursday, 5/13/21: Like most of you, our project site is still drying out from last week. More work was done to waterproof the area for the elevator installation. There was also a review of the elevator lift system, confirmation of heights, codes and all that good stuff. Everything is coming along nicely!

With our public launch of the Access for All & More campaign we’re going to be hosting and promoting several events and specials throughout the summer. If you haven’t already check out Access for All & More page to learn more and keep an eye out on Instagram for a promotion with Bow Market

Thursday, 5/6/21: This was a rainy week! Which makes us appreciate the importance of waterproofing even more. This and rebar were the focus of the team this week as they’re getting ready for inspections. 


So as things trudge along with construction we’ve been actively promoting our Access for All & More Campaign to help financially support this project and raise awareness about the Museum in the community. This past weekend we launched the public phase of the campaign during Somerville Open Studios weekend. We’ve created a summer schedule of events and promotions listed on our website and a handout that we created for the weekend. We also had cool new T-shirts made and ran a promotion that made them free to anyone who donated $50 or more to the Access for All & More campaign. If you missed that you’re in luck because we’ve extended it through the end of this week (Saturday, May 8th). We’ve also teamed up with Lyndell’s Bakery and they’re donating 10% of all proceeds from sales during Mother’s Day weekend!

Thursday, 4/29/21: This week our construction team was busy finishing the ledge removal to make way for the elevator. The team also had the masons out on site to create a sample brickwork for comparison. Can you spot the subtle design detail in the brickwork? 

In other news, we’re excited to announce the public launch of our Access for All & More Campaign! For over 100 years, the Somerville Museum has held space for the stories that shape our collective history. As we pivoted throughout the pandemic, we considered how to grow through this time of crisis to better serve the community. We are proud to announce the launch of our Access for All & More Campaign, which will enable us to make critical upgrades to our historic building and will increase accessibility to our programming, website and museum community as a whole. Join us in creating the space that will tell our stories for the next 100 years. 

This launch is happening this weekend along with Somerville Open Studios. In honor of the launch the Museum will be open both Saturday and Sunday and we’ll have a social media promotion for some neat new t-shirts. All you need to do: 

1. Take a selfie at the Museum during SOS weekend 
2. Post on social media using hashtags #somervillemuseum #accessforall
3. Tag 2 friends that live in Somerville

OR, you can skip the posting and donate $50 (minimum) to the Access for All & More campaign and receive a free T-shirt! 

Thursday, 4/22/21: The special drilling through the underground ledge is complete. This week the construction team focused on shoring in preparation to construct the elevator shaft. And, if you had to look up what shoring means, you aren’t alone. It’s the process of temporarily supporting a building or structure during repairs and alternations. So, as you can see, it’s pretty important. Here are some pics of our legendary large hole with said shoring for your enjoyment. 

Meanwhile, we’re in the throes of preparing for Somerville Open Studios (SOS) weekend. This year it will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person events. The Museum will be open with our current exhibition, The Art of Observation, which showcases the work of David Campbell, a local Somerville artist. Stop by and check it out! 

Thursday, 4/15/21: Another big week for the Museum – this week drilling of the underground ledge continued. Unfortunately, the crew had to deal with an excess of ground water that needed to be diverted through the front garden. We greatly appreciate the hard work and patience of The Garden Club volunteers (who have been upkeeping our garden for decades) as we figure out these solutions. ADA door hardware was also discussed and we’re one step closer to being more accessible!


In other news, The Art of Observation exhibition was reviewed by Ezra Haber Glenn for WBUR’s The ARTery! Check it out here and reserve your tickets today to view the exhibit.

Thursday, 4/8/21: This was a big week for the Museum. With City permit in hand, construction started again this week to begin drilling through the ledge under where the elevator will live. The Stack + Co. team prepped, shored and cleaned up the existing foundation walls while continually monitoring the situation for the Museum and surrounding neighbors. 

In other news, the Museum is reopening to the public this week! We’ll be following all safety protocols including visitors reserving tickets online. This is your chance to see the long awaited exhibition, The Art of Observation. Curated by Community Curator, Debra Olin, this exhibit is a retrospective of the work of David Campbell, beloved local artist. Don’t wait, reserve your ticket today! You can reserve tickets via Eventbrite.

Thursday, 4/1/21: This week we received our permit from the City to perform the special drilling! This is exciting news as it means we’ll be able to move forward with drilling through the ledge under the Museum where the elevator will live. Drilling will begin next week. 

In other news, this week we learned that we were awarded the Mass Humanities Digital Capacity Grant! This will help support our Voices from Somerville lecture series, so expect news about an upcoming event soon. Special thanks to Mass Humanities, Charan Devereaux and David Guss.


Thursday, 3/25/21: This week we met with the design team to finalize the finish selections for the elevator, bathrooms and kitchenette. We talked tile, wall color, and door hardware finish and it’s all coming together nicely! Below are some images of sample selections. 

This week we met with the Somerville Media Center (SMC) to discuss an upcoming collaboration. Stay tuned for more details. We’re also actively planning out our next two years of exhibitions and events including our next exhibition, Penny Chronicles and the Stories They Tell, opening Fall 2021. So, be sure to join our mailing list and stay up to date.  

Thursday, 3/18/21: This week we met with our door hardware vendor to discuss options for interior and exterior ADA hardware options. We’re excited for this detail that will be a great finishing touch to the project. We’re still currently waiting on the permit from the City to move forward with drilling through the underground ledge but we’re anticipating this will happen soon.

Meanwhile, we’ve announced our next round of Community Curator winners! 

Julia Csekö, Originally from Brazil, has curated many shows in the Boston area and has been a Somerville resident for ten years. Her project titled, “We All Bleed Red” (Provisional Title), will feature artists speaking to themes of immigration, otherness, belonging, and building communities that aggregate diversity and inclusion. This exhibition will speak to Somerville’s diverse population, addressing immigration in conversation with the Somerville Museums’ history and collection. It will also initiate a broader conversation through the vision of contemporary artists exploring this theme. Originally from Brazil, Julia has curated many shows in the Boston area and has been a Somerville resident for ten years.

Arlinda Shtuni is a Somerville-based artist and curator who believes that fundamental discoveries happen in the in-between space, otherwise known as the margins of disciplines. Her project titled, “Waterlines Somerville Stories,” will explore Somerville’s origins, urban expansion, and ever-changing ecology through stories about water. Arlinda practices across mediums, acting as artist and curator of interactive art projects that fuse visual, literary, and musical arts with design and science, bringing together visual artists, writers, designers, and scientists to engage around a prescient question. 

Thursday, 3/11/21: While we wait on the permit from the City to continue with the necessary drilling needed to move forward with our project, we’ve been fine-tuning other details. We’re finalizing the finishes of the elevator, working with a local company on interior and exterior door hardware and selecting our decorative lighting fixtures. We’re also looking at paint colors to complete the transformation. All very exciting!

Interior renderings by the design team at Peter Quinn Architects

Meanwhile, after much deliberation, interviews and discussion, we’ve selected our next round of Community Curators! We’ll be sending out an official notice next week and we’re very much looking forward to these exciting exhibitions and programming. Last week we also held a meeting for our new 21st Century Club. This group consists of local business owners, artists, students, teachers, volunteers and residents. They’ve been tasked with helping us brainstorm ideas on how to not only introduce our Access for All capital campaign to the public but how to raise awareness of the Somerville Museum in the community. 

Thursday, 3/4/21: We’re currently preparing for the special drilling that will happen at the Museum and waiting on the permit confirmation from the City. While we wait, we’re actively working on programming, events and planning for the future. Some very exciting things are happening! 

This past week the Museum was featured in local and national news. Our current virtual exhibit, Home is Where the Art is, was featured in The Somerville Times. This is a program related to our current exhibition, The Art of Observation, curated by Community Curator, Debra Olin. We’re also delighted to announce that Keidrick Roy received an Honorable Mention from the NCPH for his work on Reading Frederick Douglass and Rage, Fragility and Anti-Racism! Keidrick is a member of the Board of Trustees and generously volunteers his time on these projects. We also learned that two of our curators, David Guss (curator of the upcoming exhibition, Penny Chronicles) and Debra Olin (Community Curator of The Art of Observation) have received grants from the Somerville Arts Council LCC grant program! Stay up to date on Museum news and events by joining our mailing list.  

Thursday, 2/25/21: This past week our contractor, Stack + Co. employed a consulting company to ensure the safety of the special drilling needed for the elevator installation. We’re currently waiting for the permit confirmation from the City before moving forward. Meanwhile, we’re finalizing all the wonderful ADA accessories for the new bathrooms and finishes for the elevator. We can’t wait for you to see the functional and beautiful design that the team has dreamed up!

While we wait for the construction progress to pick up again we’re actively working on our exhibition and programming schedule. Want to learn more? Check out our exhibitions page to see what exhibitions are happening in the future. 

Thursday, 2/18/21:

This past week we held our monthly Board of Trustees meeting during which the change order was discussed to move forward with drilling through the ledge found under the Museum. Ledge is a common headache throughout New England and I’m sure many people who have done construction projects have encountered this issue. Special drilling procedures need to happen to ensure safety and stability for the building and the installation of the elevator. So, we’ll be moving forward soon with this part of the project. 

Meanwhile, this week we officially introduced our new Art + Culture Assistant, Laidy Saenz! Laidy has been with us for about 2 months and is a pleasure to work with. She is originally from Peru and holds an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts. She brings experience in operations management, programming and research. She’s also been a resident of Somerville for 11 years. We’re lucky to have her as part of our team!

Thursday, 2/11/21:

Bob Schofield, snow remover extradonaire

This week we hit an underground ledge where the elevator will be. We’re pausing for a few days to figure out the best course of action. We’ll be able to make up this lost time during the following months of the project. Meanwhile, a huge thank you and shout out to Bob Schofield for clearing our walkways of snow this week! 

While there isn’t much to report on the construction front, did you know that we currently have an exhibition installed in the main gallery? The Art of Observation is a Community Curator exhibition curated by Debra Olin. This exhibition is a retrospective of David Campbell’s artwork and has been installed since November 2020. While the Museum is not currently open to the public, we’re hoping to safely open soon with permission from the City of Somerville. Meanwhile, we’ve developed many virtual programs and a virtual exhibit of student artwork to supplement this show. To learn more visit the exhibit page

Thursday, 2/4/21: Goodbye Westwood Road Stairs!

This was a big week – the Westwood Road stairs were demolished and a blizzard was predicted for the area! This past week the stairs were removed and the area was excavated in preparation for the elevator. These pictures are really worth a thousand words so we’ll leave them here for you. And, if you have a chance to stroll through the neighborhood take a look at the progress and note that our mailbox has been moved temporarily to the surrounding fence facing Central Street. 

This project has been substantially funded by the City of Somerville’s Community Preservation Act (CPA). We are grateful for the support of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) and private donors. We still have funds to raise! To learn more visit our Access for All donation page and please consider donating today!

Image of the Westwood side of the Museum

Thursday, 1/28/21: If you’ve walked by the Museum lately you’ve probably noticed the orange barricades and fence on Westwood Road. Our Stack + Co. construction crew is actively working to help us create a better Museum for you!  

Image of the basement area

These past few weeks have been focused on waterproofing the basement spaces. This is a huge undertaking and the Stack + Co. team is taking the appropriate measures to ensure this space is sustainable for the future. 

In other news, the beloved Palladian window is back on site! For a short while anyways. This window is about to restored and then brought back to be placed in its original spot on the rear side of the building. This was a requirement of the 1986 preservation deed restriction to be installed at the same time as an elevator. Want to help the Museum raise money to complete this project? Please consider donating today!

Image of Palladian window

Thursday, 1/21/21: After many months (years!) of planning, preliminary construction for the Access for All project began on December 14, 2020!

The Gentle Giant crew

Before our contractor, Stack + Co. could even get started we were tasked with removing all the items in our basement, including all collection items. This was a HUGE endeavor led by our President and Professional Conservator, Barbara Mangum. With the help of Gentle Giant we were able to safely move the entirety of our collections to off-site storage for the duration of the project. 

In the past few weeks, the contractor, Stack + Co., have sealed the interior doors to the gallery spaces to ensure our current exhibit is properly protected. They’ve demolished most of the basement areas, including the bathroom and kitchen spaces. 

This capital project will make the Museum ADA accessible with an elevator addition on Westwood Road and ADA compliant bathrooms. It will also improve circulation throughout the basement area, add a multi-purpose room, and improve our collection storage space to further engage our community. We are thankful to all our members and donors for contributing to make this capital project possible. While we have raised much of the funds necessary, we are still in need of raising money to complete the project to best serve the community. Please consider donating today!