Peabody Essex Museum to delay expansion by three years

A woman walked past the scaffolding erected for the renovation of the Peabody Essex Museum.
A woman walked past the scaffolding erected for the renovation of the Peabody Essex Museum.Credit: Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe

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Eighteen months ago, the Peabody Essex Museum announced a stunner: The Salem institution would add a 175,000-square-foot expansion as part of the biggest fund-raising campaign ever by an art museum in the state.

Less than a year later, museum leaders were dealt an unexpected blow with the deteriorating health of architect Rick Mather. And now, only weeks after Mather’s death, Peabody Essex’s leaders acknowledge that the expansion, originally scheduled for completion in 2016, will probably not be finished until 2019.

Museum director Dan Monroe said they had no choice but to hire another architect. He expects to announce a new firm this summer.

“We chose Rick Mather because of Rick and his firm, but Rick is the lead design architect,” Monroe said in a recent interview.

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