Renovations to Close Houghton Library for 12 Months

On August 9 at 4pm, Harvard’s Houghton Library will close as part of a yearlong renovation project that will increase accessibility and refresh existing academic and research space.

The renovation will be overseen by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ann Beha Architects, the same firm that led the Grolier Club’s recent facelift. Planned updates include fresh landscape, wheelchair-accessible paths, elevators, soundproofing in the reading room, and a separate space where patrons and staff can examine materials privately.

“We want all of Houghton Library--the collections, the building, and our expert staff--to generate interest in and passion for the humanities, the social sciences, and more,” said Thomas Hyry, the Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library in the January 14 issue of the Harvard Gazette.

Funding for the renovation came primarily through donations, one major benefactor being investment banker and Harvard alum Peter J. Solomon and his wife, Susan, whose collection of rare children’s literature is housed at the Houghton. (Among the highlights is a copy of the first suppressed edition of Alice in Wonderland.)

Houghton’s collections will be available to professors and researchers during the overhaul; starting August 26, a temporary reading room will open in Widener, and Houghton staff will relocate to spaces constructed in the Pusey library for this purpose.

Until the closure, Houghton is featuring an exhibition examining the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, with first editions of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton sharing space with items from that historic flight--a fitting final exhibition as Houghton keeps reaching for the stars as well.