Newly Renovated West End Museum To Reopen to the Public on May 23

After being closed to the public for more than two years following a substantial flood, a newly renovated  and reimagined West End Museum will formally reopen on Thursday, May 23.

​“It’s totally different from the old museum,” said Simon Belfanti, executive director of the museum located at 150 Staniford St., Suite 7. “Almost no walls are the same – it’s just a different space. It’s completely redesigned and a modern museum. It’s interactive, and it contains digital elements and [aspires] to be welcoming for people across generations and also to support schools and educational programs.”

​On Jan. 15, 2022, a sprinkler check-valve ruptured on the fourth floor of West End Place, leading to flooding in nearly 30 units on the building’s bottom four floors, as well as in the adjacent West End Museum and its office space.

​More than two dozen large images, which made up about half of the museum’s main permanent exhibit, ‘The Last Tenement,’ were damaged to some extent. But in all, only around 50 items were lost in the flood – about 40 of which the museum had duplicates of – while some other documents had already been scanned. Just two or three photos were completely destroyed due to the flood.

When the museum reopens, the erstwhile ‘Last Tenement’ exhibit will be completely reimagined and vastly expanded as ‘Rise, Fall, Rebirth: Stories of the West End.’ This new permanent exhibit tells the West End’s story from when the neighborhood first comprised fields, farms, factories, and a few mansions around Bowdoin Square, though the immigrant era and the demolition that came with urban renewal, and up until the modern age (and beyond). The exhibit now covers the “full breath of the neighborhood,” said Belfanti, going from 1625 to 2035, even taking it a few years into the future.

This first phase of the rebuild project has cost around $1 million while a second phase will cost approximately $400,000. Besides individual donors, the Boston Planning & Development Agency, Boston Properties, HYM Investment Group, Delaware North, Mass Cultural Council, the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, and Mass General Hospital have made financial contributions to the project. But the museum is still accepting donations to help push it over the finish line, said Belfanti.

The second phase will include the development of two new films  -one focusing on abolitionists in the old West End (and now Beacon Hill) and another exploring the experience of displacement from the West End. An interactive map will also be developed as part of the project’s second phase.

Trivium Interactive of the North End is developing the museum’s interactive elements, including touchscreen and video elements, along with the interactive map, among other features, for both project phases. New York-based Chan Ascher Architecture has offered its services pro bono for the project’s design.

Belfanti said “one benefit of digital media” is that the museum will now be able to constantly update and add content to existing exhibits.

“The museum is completely new and won’t be repetitive for people who’ve seen it before,” he said. “You also can come back and explore because it’s multi-layered…and not something we expect you’ll be able to take in in one visit.”

The first event in the new museum space will be its Boston Trivia Night at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 30. Tickets cost $10 each and can be purchased online at

The museum will also welcome the public for ‘West End Stories: Scanning Party’ on Monday, June 10, from 4 to 7 p.m. At this event, attendees can bring their items (i.e. ‘photos, letters, records, or objects that tell the story of the neighborhood before urban renewal, just after, or up through the present day’) for a scanning project to help augment the museum’s already extensive archives collection. Or instead, attendees can have the items scanned and bring the originals back home with them, along with new digitized copies, courtesy of the museum. R.S.V.P. for this free event at

For more information on the West End Museum, and to contribute to the museum’s renovation costs, visit

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