Akillian Gallery History

As interesting as the many exhibits that have been hosted in the Akillian Gallery, so too is its’ beginning.  The space itself is an exhibit of foresight, planning, dedication, and perseverance.


For those who may not know, at one time the space was no more than a storage area. The following is a bit of Massasoit history, as told by Prof. Irving Weiner, Dept. Head of Architecture, who was a witness to its transformation.

In 1990, at the Canton Campus, Irving Weiner and Arthur Rigor da Eva, professors in the Architectural Department, dramatically redesigned the under-utilized space, into an architecturally pleasing and functional area that became the Akillian Gallery.   

The reconstruction began as a class room collaboration between Professor Rigor da Eva and several students to develop design concepts. Once the final design was selected, Professor Rigor da Eva and Prof. Weiner drew the plans, and made a model. This planning process took about four years until it was presented to the Board of Trustees.

Students involved with the project at the time, made the presentation, and spoke to the Board about the project. Under consideration was approval for funding to move forward to the next phase of the plan. In 1994, approval was granted, and the plans began to take shape.

The gallery was dedicated on June 19, 2002 and named in the memory of James C. Akillian. Jim had spent more than 20 years at Massasoit Community College as Assistant Dean & Business Manager at the Canton Campus. The college proudly honors his dedication, contribution, and friendship.

Most of the manual work required was done by faculty and students. One student involved in the project was also a contractor. He came in with his welding torch, and together with Professor Rigor da Eva, dismantled the steel frame from the facade of room 210. The metal and glass that was removed, was then reassembled into what is now the entrance wall to room 207, now the Akillian Gallery. At about the same time, Professor Weiner had started to take down the concrete blocks that separated the spaces under reconstruction.

Both professors next refined the design plans to conceal the existing structural limitations; a drainpipe, and the duct work. Design elements included adding arches above the windows to compliment the barrel vaulted ceiling. The vaulted ceiling appears to extend through the gallery and into the hall, but mirrors were installed on either end of the beam, to create the illusion of a longer continuous space. The column in the center of space conceals the drainpipe, and the reflective ceiling is complimented by lights and diffusers, strategically placed to provide a visually balanced appearance.

In the construction phase, the project manager representing the contractor who won the bid, was coincidently a Massasoit alum, and former student in the Architectural program.