Category Archives: Architecture

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

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Nestled in the Basque region’s port city of Bilbao, Spain, today’s “Museum of the Day” is recognizable the world over for the transformational power of iconic architecture and art. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was the real first bold move for a New York-based art collection from the 20th century.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy had already been entrusted to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation by 1976, three years before Peggy passed away. Solomon was Peggy’s uncle and when she died, the NY based museum assumed responsibility for the care of the artworks and reopened her palace in Venice to the public as a museum in 1980. Together, the two museums provided a working model that gave Thomas Krens, the New York museum’s director in the 1980-90s, the idea to form a “constellation” of museum outposts in which to circulate exhibits from the existing collections and from which he could enhance the collecting power of the new collective of museums.

Bilbao, Spain proved a perfect alignment of the stars for Krens and he managed to capture the world’s attention with what many consider Frank O. Gehry’s masterpiece. I wrote my graduate thesis about the museum, and I was fortunate to tour it while under construction (hard hat and all), then again attended the grand opening on October 18, 1987.

My experience of seeing it unfinished, I believe, provided me with a lot of insight into how detailed and ingenious Gehry’s designs were. I was able to see closet space for artworks that later, when completed, were completely invisible behind the undulating and sensual walls he designed. When I attended the opening, I was able to understand how he had also worked natural lighting into places that otherwise would have needed artificial lights. The building has a life and an energy force that are palpable from the moment you see it emerge and until you leave.

The jaw-dropping, gasp-producing moment when you first spot the museum from a distance continue as you approach it in a car as you round the hillsides of Bilbao, continues at street level, where it looms like a spaceship landed in the middle of an otherwise quiet, historic city. Suddenly, as you approach the museum on the sidewalk, it invites you in with a staircase leading DOWN to the entrance, a huge departure from the monumental staircases up to art museums of the 20th century. The architecture never fails to keep you engaged during the entire visit, as you will find surprises at every turn.

I have included many images of the interior spaces here and not the myriad of images from every angle. Instead of explaining each nuance, I leave you with images to explore and enjoy.

Truly, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has one of the best backgrounds for art of the 21st century, but the best way to experience the building is in person. I cannot wait to go again!

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Entrance Atrium
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Entrance to Guggenheim Museum Bilbao with Jeff Koon’s sculpture, “Puppy”.
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Gallery for Richard Serra’s monumental sculptures.
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Richard Serra monumental installations are easily experienced in the large hanger-like galleries in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
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Gerhy’s designs allow for natural light from the upper level galleries to flow unimpeded into galleries below.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Source: NY Times online
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Kansas City, Missouri is home to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

As I tour around the  United States via the internet searching for this blog, I find all kinds of museums (known or not) that I want to visit! This great art museum in the Midwest has always been on my list, but the new Bloch Building addition that opened in 2007 makes it one of most visually engaging museums, architecturally speaking.

The Bloch Building has been called a process unfolding, a magical response to the landscape and to the original building. The design by Steven Holl Architects was chosen for its unique solution to the Museum’s problem: how to provide more space without compromising the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building.

What was created becomes a sculptural addition to the landscape of the museum. The addition solved the need while adding visual interest to the art museum.

The story of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is rich with characters, collectors and curators. It began in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the edge of Kansas City was still north of the current Museum. It began because a Kansas City newspaperman developed a hunger for refinement at about the same time that a widowed schoolteacher fell in love with the art museums of Europe.

The large financial estates they left were intended to create two separate art museums, but trustees later combined their assets to fund what is today a world-renowned art museum, the Nelson-Atkins. It would take brilliant architects, art historians, curators and community leaders to turn the dreams of William Rockhill Nelson and Mary Atkins into reality.

Worth the airfare for its history and great collections alone, the museum’s new building is like the icing on the cake.

There are many great and unusual museum experiences in Missouri. I can’t wait to visit!

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Museo Soumaya

museo-soumaya-1Mexico City is home of one of the most stunning new museums opened since 2010. Although information about the museum is only available in Spanish via the institution’s website, the architecture of the museum merits it a special page in my blog.

From Wikipedia: The Museo Soumaya is a private museum in the Nuevo Polanco area of Mexico City. Admission to the museum is free. It is owned by the Carlos Slim Foundation and contains the extensive art, religious relics, historical documents, and coin collection of Carlos Slim and his late wife Soumaya, after whom the museum was named.

The museum holds works by many of the best known European artists from the 15th to the 20th century. It contains a large collection of casts of sculptures by Auguste Rodin.

The museum was founded in 1994.  In 2011 it opened a new location which cost over $70 million to build. The new building, a shiny silver cloud-like structure reminiscent of a Rodin sculpture,was designed by the Mexican architect Fernando Romero, who is married to a daughter of Carlos Slim, and engineered with Ove Arup and Frank Gehry.

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Denver Museum of Art

Museums1_DAM_VD_JeffWellsThe Denver Art Museum is today’s “Museum of the Day”. Yet another art museum with an outstanding track record of prioritizing design and stunning architecture, the museum stands out as one of the state’s most emblematic institutions.

The Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast, with a collection of more than 70,000 works of art divided between 10 permanent collections including African, American Indian, Asian, European and American, modern and contemporary, pre-Columbian, photography, Spanish Colonial, textile, and western American art.

Founded in 1893 as the Denver Artists’ Club, the Denver Art Museum has had a number of temporary homes, from the public library and a downtown mansion to a portion of the Denver City and County Building.

In 2000, the architect Daniel Libeskind designed the 146,000-square-foot Frederic C. Hamilton Building, a joint venture of Daniel Libeskind and Denver-based Davis Partnership Architects. On October 7, 2006, the Denver Art Museum nearly doubled in size when it opened one of the country’s most unique structures. The Frederic C. Hamilton Building includes new galleries for its permanent collection, three temporary exhibition spaces, art storage, and public amenities. The entire museum complex totals more than 350,000 square feet and serves as an architectural landmark for the city of Denver and the surrounding region.

The Denver Art Museum has been a leader in educational programming for more than two decades. The family-friendly approach is fully integrated into the galleries through a unique partnership between curators, designers, and educators for each discipline. A trailblazer in creating innovative opportunities that encourage visitors to interact with the collection, the museum is also known internationally for the way we help our visitors explore art and their own creativity.

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Milwaukee Art Museum

storymaker-awesome-urban-escapes-slideshow7-515x388Today’s Museum of the Day celebrates the art and architecture of the Milwaukee Art Museum with the exciting and moveable Quadracci Pavilion addition designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is an architectural landmark, comprised of three buildings designed by three legendary architects: Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava. The museum collects and preserves art, presenting it to the community as a vital source of inspiration and education.

30,000 works of art. 400,000+ visitors a year. 125 years of collecting art. From its roots in Milwaukee’s first art gallery in 1888, the museum has grown today to be an icon for Milwaukee and a resource for the entire state.

The 341,000-square-foot museum includes the War Memorial Center (1957) designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, the Kahler Building (1975) by David Kahler, and the Quadracci Pavilion (2001) created by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Central to the Museum’s mission is its role as a premier educational resource, with educational programs that are among the largest in the nation, involving classes, tours, and a full calendar of events for all ages.

Four floors of over forty galleries of art are rotated regularly with works from antiquity to the present in the Museum’s far-reaching Collection. Included in the Collection are 15th– to 20th–century European and 17th– to 20th–century American paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, decorative arts, photographs, and folk and self-taught art. Among the best in the nation are the Museum’s holding of American decorative arts, German Expressionism, folk and Haitian art, and American art after 1960. The Museum also holds one of the largest collections of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe.

Important artists represented include Nardo di Cione, Francisco de Zurbarán, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Winslow Homer, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Jóan Miro, Mark Rothko, Robert Gober, and Andy Warhol.

In addition to the works in the Museum’s Collection galleries, there are a variety of changing exhibitions throughout the year, including the three major feature exhibitions in the Baker/Rowland Galleries of the Quadracci Pavilion.

Add this to my bucket list! I am a big fan of Calatrava and would love to visit Milwaukee.

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