The Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ Art of the Americas Wing is a $345 million expansion, which added dozens of new galleries for American artwork along with the impressive Shapiro Family Courtyard – a dynamic gathering space for MFA visitors and a venue for special events. Acentech consulted on the acoustical and audiovisual design throughout the new and renovated museum, including this glass-enclosed space.

As part of our work on the MFA’s Shapiro Family Courtyard, Acentech conducted acoustical surveys of atrium spaces throughout the Boston area. We used this data to support our acoustical recommendations, along with a sophisticated computer model and acoustical simulation (“3DListening”) of how the Courtyard would sound under various conditions – for example, filled with a large gathering of people, in a dining configuration, and with amplified speech or a live music ensemble. Members of the design team and Museum representatives were able to hear how design decisions about the room’s finishes and acoustical treatments would affect how the space would sound – before it was built. We also simulated the sound of speech in the Courtyard with and without the special sound system that Acentech designed. After listing to the auralization, the team was able to hear the effects of Acentech’s recommendations and make informed decisions about the design.

In addition to the Courtyard, Acentech gave special attention to the acoustical design of the galleries throughout the Art of the Americas Wing, thus allowing the full range of patron experiences, from quiet contemplation of artwork to tours and lively engagement with exhibits.

The Museum’s expansion also included the Alfond Auditorium, a sophisticated new 150-seat space for films (16mm, 35mm, and video-based), lectures, and concerts. Remote participants can conference in via a digital videoconference system. Acentech’s careful acoustical design and the near-silent background sound we helped to create support these various uses; the extensive audio and video systems serve various types of multi-media presentations in the Auditorium.

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