Budapest’s new mayor, Gergely Karácsony, has moved to block the construction of Hungary’s New National Gallery, due to the SANAA-designed building’s supposed “enormous impact on its environment.” Elected in October on a green platform, the Mayor has expressed his concerns over the building being built on “one of Budapest’s few and very precious green areas,” and construction has since stalled on the $277 million project. On November 5, Budapest’s General Assembly backed Karácsony’s proposal to halt the centerpiece of the Liget Budapest Project, which is said to be Europe’s “largest and most ambitious urban cultural development.” Construction on the House of Hungarian Innovation, a new $110 million science museum, has also been suspended. The entire project was slated to be fully completed by 2023 and included a Museum of Ethnography, House of Hungarian Music, and an expanded zoo. The National Museum Restoration and Storage Centre opened to the public earlier this year. While many residents shared the Mayor’s concerns about the environmental impact, project organizers have defended the construction. “The new buildings are not being constructed on green areas but are instead replacing parking spaces and long-outdated buildings planned to be demolished,” László Baán, director of Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts, argued, according to The Art Newspaper. He has also stated that the green space in the park will actually increase by five percent. The New National Gallery was due to begin construction in early 2020 with the goal of closing the Hungarian National Gallery in Buda Castle and dividing the collection between the Museum of Fine Arts and the New National Gallery. Because the project is being funded by the central government, negotiations with the mayor will continue, and he has even suggested alternative sites in Budapest where he believes construction will not damage the environment.
Posts tagged with "Art Museums":
Brought to you with support fromWith a permanent art collection of approximately 3,500 pieces hailing from the 20th and 21st centuries, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Washington State University is arguably the most prestigious curatorial institution in Pullman, Washington, and joins a string of art museums founded by the Schnitzer family across the Pacific Northwest. The project opened in 2018 and was designed by Seattle's Olson Kundig, who stamped their presence within the campus with a bold crimson facade of mirrored glass panels. The museum consists of two volumes encompassing a total of 16,000-square-feet. Visitors arrive through an entry built of glass-and-metal casement windows that can be opened in a similar fashion to a garage door. The primary glass volume houses the museum's gallery spaces and is lifted off the ground by an arcade of pilotis and, in some respects, resembles a hovering cube. "A key design challenge was balancing the museum's dual needs for transparency and security," said Olson Kundig design principal Jim Olson. "The answer is a design that consists of two distinct parts: The first serves as an informal entry to the museum and the second space, the "crimson cube," is a climate-controlled space that houses the formal galleries and is enveloped by the crimson facade."
Facades+ Seattle on December 6.Steinfort Glas, a manufacturer based in the Netherlands, produced the mirrored glass facade panels in three different dimensions which function as a relatively conventional rainscreen. The facade's composition achieves a patterned effect through alternating courses of square panels, measuring 3'-4" by 3'-6", and rectangular panels, measuring 3'-4" by 1'-8". The horizontality of each elevation is broken up by steps of larger square panels that are roughly double in size at 6'-6" by 7'-0". "I wanted the museum to have a highly reflective facade as a means of weaving it into its context," continued Olson. "While appearing rather solid and uniform from afar, the reflective crimson cube rewards viewers upon closer inspection, much like the artworks housed within." The effect is achieved through the placement of colored interlayer glass between the mirrored glass panels. The installation of the rainscreen was fairly straightforward and was handled by Hoffman Construction Company, a contracting firm based in the Pacific Northwest. A mounting clip adheres to the back of each individual glass panel, which is subsequently attached to an aluminum rainscreen system produced by Hunter Douglas. The rainscreen system allowed for minor adjustments on site via screws set through the panel joints. Olson Kundig principal Blair Payson will be co-instructing the workshop "Glass Design and Avoiding Catastrophic Failures: Design Choices, Practical Solutions, and Complex Engineering," at
With the multi-billion dollar Chinese art market now ranked as the third-largest internationally, and with the growing interest in exhibiting Chinese artists in the West, the opening of the Centre Pompidou’s new Shanghai partnership is no surprise. The Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project is the keystone of the urban revitalization plan to turn an industrial strip on the Huangpu River into a cultural hub. The West Bund Museum, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, opened to the public on November 8 and was inaugurated earlier last week with a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron. The museum will house 27,000 square feet of exhibition space, a cafe, bookstore, art studio, and educational spaces. Sitting on a brand new riverside park, the West Bund Museum invites the public in through its towering double-story lobby. "The public facilities all contribute to the idea that modern museums are more than just a destination for viewing art," said Libin Chen, a partner at David Chipperfield Architects' Shanghai office. “When we designed the building it wasn’t for the Centre Pompidou,” said David Chipperfield in an interview with The Art Newspaper. It was for ‘a museum.’ When we asked, ‘what will be in the museum?’, the answer was: “We don’t know yet. But we need three big multi-functional halls that can be used for anything—exhibitions, performances, parties. It was incredibly generic, which was a bit frustrating. We were playing tennis with ourselves—there was no one hitting the ball back. Architects always argue that they would like more freedom, but be careful, because sometimes freedom doesn’t help you.” The glass-clad building, while bearing no formal similarities to its parent museum in Paris, is intended to reflect a similar concern for openness and transparency. “In this case, the pedestrian route along the river is a surprisingly important infrastructural element, busy with joggers and walkers. That is something to respond to. So the building doesn’t have a back and a front,” said Chipperfield. The ground floor houses a river-facing cafe and bookstore that is open to the public. This form of cultural exchange has already been well-established by other global museum expansions, such as the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. The Pompidou itself has also already crossed France’s border with the opening of the Centre Pompidou Málaga in 2015. The Shanghai partnership, which has a five-year timeline with the possibility for renewal afterward, has been self-described as "the highest-standard cultural exchange project of such long duration between China and France in the cultural field." The West Bund Museum's transparent design concept, however, doesn’t necessarily extend to the curation process. Though the parent French institution curates and provides artwork for its Shanghai outpost, it is still subject to Chinese censorship laws. According to the New York Times, less than five pieces of artwork were blocked from the exhibition by Chinese officials for “not only political” reasons.
The new Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture building opened its doors on Seattle’s University of Washington Campus on October 12, three years after the project was first announced. Designed by local architecture firm Olson Kundig using a $99 million budget, the 113,000-square-foot Burke Museum contains 66 percent more space for research, education, and storage, and features a series of airy exhibition spaces displaying a portion of its 16 million-object collection of fossils and Native American art, the majority of which was held in storage for much of the institution’s 130-year past. “We look forward to having a new building that serves as a gathering place for learning, research, and appreciation of cultures and the environment for generations to come,” said Burke Museum Executive Director Dr. Julie K. Stein. The new Burke was designed to reflect both the present conditions of the university and the Pacific Northwest character of the site, most notably with its distinctive Kebony-produced siding made of southern pine, a material that was once a common building material in the area. Additionally, a Pacific madrone tree that was once on the site was carefully removed to be later integrated back into the construction to minimize waste on the property. These and other gestures were initiated in keeping with the building’s goal of being accredited with LEED Gold certification. The building does, however, contain plenty of signature design gestures from the firm, including a large pivoting window wall in the museum’s expansive café.
“We wanted to create a simple, beautiful, rational, and flexible building that will serve the Burke for hundreds of years,” said Tom Kundig, cofounder of Olson Kundig. “It is an inviting place not only for the public but also for the scientists, researchers, and curators of today and tomorrow.” While previous iterations of the museum were opaque and disjointed, the firm sought to make the institution’s new home transparent and united in its facilities. Labs and gallery spaces, for example, are separated by panes of glass to provide visitors with the opportunity to see roughly two-thirds of the items kept on storage shelves as well as “behind-the-scenes” paleontology. “I knew we had to do more than just build a bigger box with good air conditioning,” said Stein. “People’s reaction to going behind the scenes is magic. We had to do something to create that magic for everyone who comes to the Burke, not just the select few who get a behind-the-scenes tour.”
The BURKE sign is officially lit up for our First Night First Light gala fundraiser at the #NewBurke on the Northwest corner of @UW. We look forward to seeing the sign in the night sky for many years to come! pic.twitter.com/ooJCSAsqBt— Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (@burkemuseum) October 6, 2019
The Centre Pompidou has announced plans to expand beyond its main campus in central Paris, opting for a new “art factory” space in Massy, Essonne, a southwest suburb. While no architect for the project has been named, the 22,000-square-meter facility is expected to open in 2025. In a statement obtained by The Art Newspaper, Centre Pompidou officials described the new space as “both a center of excellence for the conservation and restoration of the works in the collection, and a new cultural and creative venue deeply rooted in its territory.” It will also feature a 2,500-square-meter facility reserved for live performances, conferences, and screenings, all organized in partnership with various groups. Backed by the French state, among other investors, the art factory curators will collaborate regularly with scholars from the nearby University Paris-Saclay. The existing Centre Pompidou complex houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information (Public Information Library, the IRCAM (Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music), and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe. One of the key elements of the expansion will be the movement of 120,000 works from the latter museum's collection to the new satellite. Reserve works will be partially accessible to visitors, allowing for a new and direct kind of interaction with the museum’s extensive collection. The announcement came as the Centre Pompidou continues to expand. Its David Chipperfield-designed outpost in Shanghai, called Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum, is set to open next month. Another branch, designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, opened in Metz, France, in 2010. The original complex, in the Beaubourg area of central Paris, was completed in 1977. Designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rodgers, and Gianfranco Franchini, the Centre Pompidou was revered by the 2007 Pritzker jury for “transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city.”
The Seattle Asian Art Museum will reopen to the public in February 2020 after a two-year, $56 million renovation and expansion project. The museum, which has not undergone any major work since it was first built in 1933, is in the midst of an extensive renovation by LMN Architects to both secure the building’s aging structure and reopen the facilities as a modernized exhibition space. The Asian Art Museum will reopen with a new debut, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, and the special exhibition Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art. Two full days of free events will also accompany the shows on February 8 and 9, 2020, with tickets available starting in December. The museum is renowned for housing one of the most prominent collections of Asian art outside the continent itself. Its galleries display work spanning the 1st to 21st century and hailing from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia. The Asian Art Museum is in Volunteer Park and makes up one-third of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), and has occupied its art deco home since 1994. Prior to that, the 1930s-era building functioned as the original location of SAM until its move downtown. In addition to preserving the historic sandstone facade, landscaping, and fountains, the museum has significantly expanded its gallery and programing facilities. The expansion includes a new 2,600-square-foot gallery as well as new education, conservation, and community spaces on the building's east side. The existing Fuller Garden Court, the museum's central point, will be renovated and connected to a new park-facing lobby. The galleries will also receive an upgraded lighting system that mimics natural daylight. Taking advantage of its location, the glass-enclosed Park Lobby on the east side of the museum will overlook Olmsted’s Volunteer Park. Reinforcing the building’s relationship to the park was one of the museum’s major goals. “The design represents the seamless integration of the building’s spectacular site," said LMN in a statement, "with the museum’s mission for the 21st century: to showcase Asian art in conjunction with contemporary educational and conservation spaces." As one of only a handful of museums specializing in Asian art in the U.S., the expanded public programming, exhibition, and conservation capabilities of the museum will be a huge cultural asset to the city. “With the completion of this project, we unveil new spaces to connect the museum’s extraordinary collection of Asian art to our lives and experiences,” said Amada Cruz, Illsley Ball Nordstrom director and CEO of SAM, in a press statement.
Ruby City is an oddity. Sited in a formerly industrial zone south of Downtown San Antonio dotted with islands of gas stations and fast food signs, and abutting a neighborhood known for its artist community, the 14,000-square-foot contemporary art center designed by Adjaye Associates is, by nature of its history, location, and design, a study in contradictions. In 2007, the late Linda Pace, daughter of salsa and hot sauce magnate David Pace, reached out to David Adjaye with a sketch of Ruby City, which she envisioned as a center to present her then 500-piece-strong art collection to the public. An artist herself, Pace would draw her dreams after waking up and have these sketches fabricated into sculptures (the institution's inaugural exhibition includes a work by Pace that renders the word STAY in fake blue flowers). Pace’s idea for Ruby City came during one of these nocturnal fantasias, when she envisaged a complex of towers and minarets in blazing red. Pace met Adjaye shortly before her death from breast cancer to discuss the project, and 12 years later, the building is finally opening. The result is far from a collection of windowless spires but is still, as Adjaye told Texas Monthly, “very shy.” On approach, my initial impression was of a thick-shelled aardvark or beetle, the building’s heavy stone massing and brilliant red color standing in stark contrast to the sea of parking lots nearby. The red, terrazzo-like concrete used to form the facade has been rightly celebrated by critics ahead of the building’s opening; the material was fabricated by Pretecsa, a company based outside of Mexico City, and is also strategically deployed in custom curbside bollards and benches in the sculpture garden. In person, its rich color is true to the photos. Despite the fortress-like street presence, Adjaye has tried to make Ruby City feel inviting. The way the entrance canopy gently lifts from the building and cantilevers over the plaza like the opening of a cave lends some much-needed lightness to the massing, a touch that’s mirrored on the reverse side, over the parking lot. Part of the inward-facing design is practical, as anything built in southern Texas must defer to the elements. To combat the harsh sun, two layers of curtains, one blackout and one shade, have been installed across the windows in all three of the building’s central gallery spaces; the building will be open only four days a week, with the blackout curtains otherwise drawn to protect the collection. Ruby-tinted steel grates, resembling crenelated brick from the ground, have been installed across every skylight to protect against monster hail. Once inside, it becomes clear that Adjaye Associates and executive architects Alamo Architects took great strides to enliven what could have become just another set of white-walled galleries. Flourishes abound. Pulls and fixtures were all designed in-house at Adjaye’s office, as were the molcajete- and metate-inspired benches and reception desk textured in rough, crinkled concrete. Faceted skylights brighten the steep, lengthy staircases, which are specifically designed to block the view of the second floor until visitors nearly reach the landings above. What at first seems to be a straightforward path through two extra-tall exhibition spaces (the third is currently ensconced in blue felt for an installation of Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds video, which will run for two years) actually meanders and reveals plenty of side passages and nooks with alternate views of the route just traveled. Similarly thoughtful, unexpected details are everywhere: an “eyelid” panel juts away from the building over a window on the second floor to direct views downward to the sculpture park; a conference room centered on a pair of doors taken from Pace’s bedroom is clad in timber; the adobe-colored concrete plaza extends inside to the reception area and into the elevator; a triangular cutout hidden in the overhang above the entrance looks to the sky but is only visible from directly below, Adjaye's James Turrell moment; a central gallery tall enough to comfortably, surprisingly, fit 16-foot-tall sculptures typically reserved for outdoor installation. These moves all spice up an interior that can still feel, at times, a bit too staid. There are now 900 drawings, paintings, videos, and mixed-media pieces in Ruby City’s collection, as the Linda Pace Foundation has combined its holdings with Pace’s personal acquisitions. Exhibitions will draw only from the permanent collection, and will likely rotate every two years, with the kickoff show, Waking Dream, presenting a twisted take on domesticity from international and local artists from the building's opening on October 13 through 2022. Combined with strategic views of Chris Park, a one-acre landscape of palm trees and bamboo groves down the street that is dedicated to Pace’s late son, from the double-height side corridor before entering the galleries proper, there’s enough discovery in both the art and the building to keep visitors coming back. In the end, the gestures add up, turning what could be a simple experience into something more multifaceted.
The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)-designed “The Twist” has opened in Jevnaker, Norway, bridging a 10,700-square-foot art museum across two riverbanks in northern Europe’s largest sculpture park. The project was first announced in 2011, and while this isn’t the first time BIG has put a twist on the traditional building massing, it’s certainly their most daring entry into the genre. The Twist is now the second bridge in the Kistefos Sculpture Park and doubles the amount of indoor exhibition space available to the institution. Both sides of the building, from the vertically oriented, double-height portion to the south, to the horizontal passage to the north, serve as main entrances. Both are accessible through pedestrian bridges that wend up through the woods to their respective sides of the river, with The Twist serving to connect them into one circuitous loop through the sculpture park. Design-wise, BIG opted to create a visual homogeny between the museum’s interior and exterior. Outside, the building is sheathed in long, 15-inch-wide, staggered aluminum panels, while the interior is clad in 3-inch-wide fir slats painted white on the walls, floor, and ceiling—making the transition as one rotates into another seamless. At the center, as the building begins its 90-degree twist, a nascent skylight “unzips” and turns with the rest of the building to form floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a panoramic view of the river The Twist sits over. “The Twist is a hybrid spanning several traditional categories: it’s a museum, it’s a bridge, it’s an inhabitable sculpture,” said Bjarke Ingels in a press release. “As a bridge it reconfigures the sculpture park turning the journey through the park into a continuous loop. As a museum it connects two distinct spaces–an introverted vertical gallery and an extraverted horizontal gallery with panoramic views across the river. A third space is created through the blatant translation between these two galleries creating the namesake twist. The resultant form becomes another sculpture among the sculptures of the park.” The massing of the building naturally delineates it into three different gallery sections. The tall portion, with no natural light, the sculptural middle where the building is mid-twist, and the daylight-lit flatter portion at the north. Visitors can descend beneath the northern horizontal section to access the museum’s basement and bathrooms, bringing them level with the river. Such a complicated project necessitated a great amount of collaboration, and BIG cites “Element Arkitekter, AKT II, Rambøll, Bladt Industries, Max Fordham and Davis Langdon” as their partners in realizing The Twist.
The Art Institute of Chicago is likely to receive a much-needed, multiphased makeover courtesy the Barcelona-based firm Barozzi/Veiga. The Chicago Tribune broke the news that the award-winning Spanish studio is in the early stages of dreaming up how the museum’s sprawling, 126-year-old campus could become a more porous, inclusive environment that interacts more directly with the city itself and features easier internal circulation. The move is a major goal of the museum’s current president and director James Rondeau who, when he stepped into the job in 2016, began searching for an architect to take on revamping the entire site. According to the Tribune, things are moving forward slowly, albeit on purpose. Rondeau said that, for now, firm principals Fabrizio Barozzi and Alberto Veiga are “partners to dream (up) the future” and that they’ll consider how the museum might look through the lenses of a five-year, 10-year, and 15-year, plan. The long-time problem with the Institute, critics have frequently complained, is that it’s too inwardly-focused. Bounded by Michigan Avenue on its western edge and Grant Park on its other three sides, the architecture takes up what’s arguably one-twelfth of the surrounding landscape, and it’s not even one large building; two of Chicago’s train lines literally splice through the center of the campus, forcing a bridge/building that doubles as an elongated exhibition hall to connect its entrance with the majority of the back galleries. Since it opened in 1893 for the World’s Columbia Exposition, seven additional buildings have been knit strangely into the site. The last time the museum was updated was in 2009 when Renzo Piano completed its Modern Wing in the northeastern corner, which brought 264,000-square-feet to the now one-million-square-foot campus. Though the contemporary addition complemented the rest of the architecture’s Beaux-Arts style, brought ample diffused daylight into the new gallery spaces, and provided a “main street-like” hall that links it to the existing building, the structure is just one part of an expansive art museum that needs more attention. Rondeau seems to think that Barozzi/Veiga can take the same great ideas implemented in the Modern Wing and build upon them with an overall masterplan. The design duo’s most recent claim to fame is the Szczecin Philharmonic Hall in Poland, which in 2015 won them the European Prize for Contemporary Architecture-Mies van Der Rohe Award. That project, much like Piano’s museum addition, utilized both light and shape as focal design elements to express a welcoming and artfully authoritative tone that respected the surrounding city. Rondeau told The Tribune he wants the architects to help them open up the museum’s facade onto Michigan Avenue, but its iconic steps and its lion statues are here to stay. This push to elevate the campus as a whole is a big deal considering the size of the Institute. It’s the second-largest art museum in the United States behind the Met and houses 300,000 items in its permanent collection. But Barozzi and Veiga aren’t ready to release any design ideas just yet. The only thing that’s certain is that they’ll have to work around some serious logistical issues including the fact that they can’t build anything taller than the current structures and can’t go past its four street perimeters.
For the city of Crenshaw, a historically black neighborhood in Los Angeles County, the initial symptoms of gentrification are beginning to make themselves present. Businesses and shops are closing down after decades of serving the community, the cost of housing is suspiciously skyrocketing while shops and cafes with variously esoteric titles are popping up along its main thoroughfares. “Gentrification is a crisis that threatens all elements of the work that we do,” said Damien Goodmon, executive director of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition. It's a workers issue. It's a public health issue. It's an education issue. It's an environment issue. It's a civil rights issue.” A 1.3-mile-long open-air museum along Crenshaw Boulevard, set to be completed by spring of next year, was designed to combat ensuing gentrification by empowering the community that has called the neighborhood homes for several decades. Titled Destination Crenshaw, the project was spearheaded by L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and designed by architecture firm Perkins+Will, the same studio behind similarly-motivated projects, including Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Washington DC’s National Museum of African American History. “Unlike traditional museums,” writes Perkins+Will, “Destination Crenshaw won’t be bound by walls or ceilings. The open-air, public art and cultural experience will feature architectural designs that capture the innovative and trailblazing spirit of Black L.A.” Destination Crenshaw was primarily devised as a pedestrian-friendly zone, complete with monuments, art, park space, and viewing platforms, and will also preserve and integrate the Crenshaw Wall, an 800-foot mural depicting images and icons from black history, painted by graffiti collective Rocking the Nation, into its overall design. However, the project is also designed to be visible from the Crenshaw/Los Angeles Airport (LAX) Metro Rail Line, an 8.5-mile-long light-rail system also set to be complete by spring of next year. “We really wanted to look at how we [can] use the opportunity that the rail presents to solidify, to restore the historic African American community in Southern California,” said Harris-Dawson, “and doing it in a way that benefits the people who already live there.” Beyond its ability to tell the history of the storied neighborhood through the employment of local artists, Harris-Dawson also hopes Destination Crenshaw will become a catalyst for bringing back businesses operated by members of the local creative community as well as boost the region's economy. The goals laid out by the project inspired Perkins+Will to reimagine how a museum can enhance a neighborhood. “What was clear was being able to tell a very large story about this community being there for so long and also the contribution of all the major players and heroes that have come out of that community,” said Zena Howard, the lead architect at Perkins+Will. “We began thinking about how you could tell the story not in a chronological way, not like a history museum, not in a didactic way, but more in an experiential way.” While many see the project as a boon for the neighborhood, others are slower to consider it under such absolute terms. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a longtime resident of Crenshaw and the president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, maintains that it is “unrealistic at best and a delusion at worst” to believe that Destination Crenshaw will halt the gentrification already present in the neighborhood.
Neri&Hu’s Aranya Art Center, located in China’s “Gold Coast” of Qinhuangdao, is a part of the developer Aranya’s seaside villa community. The newly built resort town is all about communal activities, with work from firms ranging from OPEN Architecture to Vector Architects that emphasize culture and education—and the newly opened Aranya Art Center is no exception, as its inscribed cylindrical design and tone of "calm drama" creates a unique opportunity for art and entertainment. The building’s heavy concrete envelope is richly textured and pierced by the occasional bronze-fitted windows and centered around an open-air pond-cum-amphitheater. When a performance is scheduled, the base of the round room becomes a descending wave of concrete steps punctuated with custom lighting. When out of use, the depression is filled with water, creating a reflective pond whose surface plays with the natural light and splashes on the surrounding concrete walls. The enclosed mass around the circular opening is filled with unexpected amounts of natural light and warm woods, and snaking corridors that choreograph the way visitors wander through the art center. The interiors were designed for peace in mind, for the maximum enjoyment of art. Despite the heavy and industrial concrete that informs the first impression of the building, the warm interiors and light-filled spaces have the ability to surprise, and Neri&Hu have said that the overall design was informed by the sea just a stone’s throw away. Accordingly, the art center is warm and calm in the summer, and iced and sharp in the winter. Although it's unfolded in the midst of China’s building boom, the art center was designed to encourage a sense of community and a slowing down. The traditional nods to Chinese architecture and history, from the presence and importance of the pond to the non-linear pathways and use of wood, encourage subtle reflection in a ready-made developer project.
America’s oldest artist-advocacy organization, the National Academy of Design, has decided to permanently close its museum operations. The Beaux-Arts mansion at 1083 Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side has been sold, and the institution is reinventing itself with an endowment. Run by artists for artists since 1825, the Academy is comprised of invite-only members, a whos-who list of many of the biggest names in American art. For most of the institution’s history, each member was also required to donate to the Academy’s collection, meaning that the NAD has pieces by American greats like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Thomas Eakins. This collection made for groundbreaking shows that produced world-class art historical scholarship. But what about the living members? Previously, the academy had been aligned with both its own museum as well as a well-respected art school, but now the NAD has now cut ties with both. “The museum and school were draining all the resources," Walter Chatham told the Art Newspaper. An architect who has served as co-chair of the Board of Governors since 2014, Chatham added, "There wasn’t any money for the programs that would actually improve the academicians’ lives. Eventually we want to get back into education and exhibitions, but I don’t think we’re going to have a museum again.” The museum debate came to a head with the sale of two Hudson River School masterpieces, prompting condemnations and sanctions from national museum organizations like the Association of Art Museum Directions and the American Alliance of Museums. Brian T. Allen, an art historian writing for the National Review, said, “I was a member of both and supported the sanctions. My museum wouldn’t lend work to NAD shows. In retrospect, I think the penalties did the NAD a disservice.” Unlike the sale of the paintings, the sale of the Academy’s three Upper East Side buildings leaves them with an enduring source of income—a legally restricted $66 million endowment to put towards operations that will prioritize the current academicians and living artists as the center of the Academy’s mission. The refreshed focus will hopefully help the institution that has long grappled with the "existential" question of its inherent museum-ness. The "class" of 2018 includes artists Mel Chin, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Vik Muniz, who will join the over 400 other living members. Refocusing their efforts on the class of living artists isn't the only initiative for the "new" NAD, as the academy has also begun publication of an online journal, NAD Now, which features fresh writing focused on the art and scholarship of members both past and present. The National Academy of Design is a storied and historic institution that is emerging once again for the 21st century, and, following in the footsteps of many other renowned arts institutions making the move out of increasingly expensive Manhattan. For example, take SculptureCenter, which sold its longtime home on the Upper East Side in order to “reinvent” itself in Long Island City, Queens, and continues to thrive. These changes are difficult for a time-honored institution’s legacy. However, in the words of Allen, “I say ‘Welcome back,’ and hope my colleagues in the American art world will do the same.”