Mui Ho Fine Arts Library

View of library stacks

A New Landmark Library for Cornell University

Cornell University is creating a new home for one of the nation's most distinguished fine arts libraries. Since 2012, with the completion of Milstein Hall, the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) has planned for a new location and expanded program for Cornell's fine arts collection.

The Mui Ho Fine Arts Library (FAL) will occupy the top floors of Rand Hall (1911), which for decades housed the design studios of the Department of Architecture. Rand Hall is sited directly on axis with Cornell's principal thoroughfare, East Avenue, and prominently marks the northern gateway to campus. The library will serve as a luminescent welcome sign to all those arriving to the campus from the north or leaving the campus from the south.

"Respectfully restored and radically reinhabited, Rand Hall will stand as a paragon of continuity and change." ~ Kent Kleinman, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean

Architect and AAP alumnus Wolfgang Tschapeller (M.Arch. '87) is the designer for Cornell's new FAL. The architectural goal is a 21st-century interpretation of the grand reading rooms associated with great research collections. The aim is to create a space in which bodies intermingle with books but are also surrounded by digital resources and opportunities for collaborative study.

"The design for the Mui Ho Fine Arts Library is an immediate and quite physical invitation to discover an extraordinary collection, which appears as one big volume, visible in its entirety upon entering. Winding staircases are the keys to enter this volume of knowledge, browse, read, and wonder." ~ Wolfgang Tschapeller (M.Arch. '87), architect

Mezzanine shelving galleries are open-ended, providing elevated views of the campus and landscape to the south. Three dense stack levels will provide shelving for approximately 125,000 volumes, leaving generous spaces for group and individual study on the main level. The north portion of the reading hall is dedicated to individual reading carrels, taking advantage of the diffused daylight and contemplative views toward Fall Creek Gorge.

"Both physical objects and digital capabilities are key to scholarship and creativity now and into the future." ~ Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian

The fine arts collection at Cornell ranks among the best circulating collection of its kind. The collection serves all visual and design disciplines at Cornell University, from the history of art to classics to landscape architecture to fiber science to the fine arts. By investing in books — not instead of digital resources but in addition to — Cornell is staking out increasingly rare territory in defense of the physical artifact as a durable and irreplaceable academic and creative resource in the visual arts.

The renovated library opened on August 5, 2019.