Harvard Art, Boston, MA
Credit: Michel Denance

Forget about the Old Boys’ Club, musty libraries, and leather club chairs. Harvard just unveiled a highly anticipated renovation of its art museums sure to bring a breath of fresh air to the stately old campus. On Sunday, the university’s three art museums will reopen to the public, united under one roof for the first time.

This being Harvard, respecting the integrity of the red brick Fogg Museum (built in 1927) was crucial. Acclaimed architect Renzo Piano was an obvious choice for the task. No stranger to ambitious museum renovations, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop is known for its stunning transformations of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth, among many others.

The striking architecture, which juxtaposes the original red brick building with glass and steel additions, is reason enough to go. We especially love the airy, light-filled Calderwood Courtyard with its old stone arcades and its new skylight. With 40% more gallery space, the new building will be able to show off the museums’ impressive permanent collections, which span nearly every region of the world and every time period from Antiquity to the present. Together with the Carpenter Center next door—Le Corbusier’s only building on U.S. soil—the new Harvard Museums add to the neighborhood’s cultural cachet.

The museums’ inaugural exhibition features Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals, restored using digital projections and on display for the first time since 2001.

Laura Itzkowitz is a researcher at Travel + Leisure