Texas’ best museum just got twice as good with new Piano Pavilion

Posted on 19 Nov 2013 at 5:06pm
Piano.Renzo

Renzo Piano, right, discussing his roof lighting system in the new Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum

Architect Renzo Piano called today’s completion of the new building that’s named after him at the Kimbell Art Museum, “a very beautiful moment when you finish the job.”

Piano, who also designed the museum building at the Nasher Sculpture Center, spoke at a press preview this morning. The new building, housing much of the museum’s permanent collection, opens to the public on Nov. 27.

Works that have been off display for years because of lack of space are back on view. Four large canvasses by Boucher that have never been hung side by side in Fort Worth because of space limitations are on view as never before.

All of the African collection is on exhibit, along with most of the museum’s Asian pieces. Works by Picasso, Cezanne, Monet, Mondrian and Pissarro, along with a selfie by Gauguin and a Van Gogh from a local private collection fill the north gallery in the original Khan building. One of my favorite paintings in the collection, “On the Pont de l’Europe” by Caillebotte is back on exhibit.

The two buildings work well together. Just deciding the exact distance apart they would stand took months of calculation, Piano said.

As with the Nasher, the roof is an engineering masterpiece. Unlike the Nasher, Fort Worth respects its art and will not allow a reflective glass tower to destroy the city’s newest treasure. Yes, that detail was discussed with the city. If I were giving advice to the Nasher, I’d tell them they should be negotiating a move to Fort Worth unless Dallas fixes its Death Ray Tower problem soon.

The new Piano building doubles the museum’s library stacks, adds classroom space for school groups and includes a 300-seat auditorium with a light trench that pays homage to the underground lighting system in the Khan building. Even the new underground parking is a work of art.

Poured concrete, glass and wooden beams are the building’s only components. Special construction-grade glass allows uninterrupted views by steel supports. That and hundreds of other details won’t be noticed by most people who visit. Anyone who enters the new Piano building will feel the magnificent exhibit space in the tranquilly beautiful building that enhance each of the works of art.

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