A masterpiece of 20th-century architecture just got a new neighbor. The stark concrete-and-travertine forms of Fort Worth’s 1972 Kimbell Art Museum—designed by Louis Kahn and famous for skylit vaults that diffuse the silvery Texas light—has been joined by a Renzo Piano annex. The addition, constructed of silky, pale concrete and whitewashed wood—and respectfully distanced from the original building by a grove of elms and red oaks—also uses sunlight to great effect, filtering it through a diaphanous glass roof shaded by computer-controlled louvers. “The light seems ethereal. You can almost feel it,” says Eric M. Lee, the museum’s director. The building will house temporary exhibitions as well as the Kimbell’s pre-Columbian, African, and Asian art, freeing up space in the main building for European painting and sculpture. And how does the Piano pavilion compare with its iconic predecessor? “It’s like looking at a Titian and a Rubens,” Lee says. “They come from the same tradition, though they each have their own definite style. You’d never mistake one for the other.”
Photo by Robert Polidori, courtesy of Kimbell Art Museum
Thanks to dramatic transformations, these five world-class museums are casting a whole new light on their collections.
Amsterdam: After a 10-year renovation, a grand atrium now greets visitors to the Rijksmuseum(pictured). More than 8,000 objects, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals, have been rearranged as a historical survey. —Raul Barreneche
Honolulu: The extraordinary story of how Pacific Islanders developed their diverse cultures is told—with canoes, costumes, musical instruments, and more—in the renovated Pacific Hall, debuting this month at the Bishop Museum. —Peter Webster
New York City: Housed in a pavilion built for the 1939 World’s Fair, the Queens Museum reopens in November at twice its original size. One of the first shows, “The People’s UN,” nods to the building’s former role as host to the General Assembly.—Peter Webster
Mexico City: The Museo Jumex, displaying artists both Mexican (Gabriel Orozco; Carlos Amorales) and global (Olafur Eliasson; Tacita Dean), expands into David Chipperfield’s sawtooth-roofed building in November. —Raul Barreneche
Cleveland: Come December, the Cleveland Museum of Artwill unveil the last of three wings by Rafael Viñoly, showing works that range from Chinese bronzes to Impressionist paintings. —Peter Webster
Spectacular art and design share the spotlight at these new additions to the culture map.
Philadelphia: Barnes Foundation With its stunning new campus downtown, the Barnes—known for shaking up the way art is understood with its provocative arrangements of Renoirs and Matisses next to metal hinges and hooks—is helping visitors see Philly’s impressive arts scene in a new light.
Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum A thorough renovation and expansion shows off the Stedelijk’s singular modern and postwar art as well as its renowned design collection. A highlight: Gerrit Rietveld’s 1926 Harrenstein Bedroom, as perfectly balanced as a Mondrian painting.
No, a UFO hasn’t landed on Houston’s Rice University campus—it’s the latest Skyspace from artist James Turrell. Named the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion (for a Rice alumna and Turrell’s former assistant), the ethereal installation frames the sky through an aperture in a thin steel roof; at dawn and dusk, colored lights transform the structure, creating a mesmerizing effect. The space also hosts concerts—fitting, since the renowned Shepherd School of Music is next door.
The 68-acre MIA Park(Corniche; 974/4422-4444) adjoins the I. M. Pei–designed Museum of Islamic Art. Set on the city’s seaside promenade, the sculpture plaza will host film screenings and art workshops, but its true claim to fame? Richard Serra’s first Middle East commission—his tallest piece to date.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has just unveiled its Renzo Piano–designed, copper-clad wing, which includes a jewel-box music hall and galleries dedicated to works by artists in residence. A glass-enclosed walkway leads to the original building.
Photo by Nic Lehoux / Courtesy of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Located in a picturesque village on the Côte d’Azur, the Musée Jean Cocteau(2 Quai Monléon; 33-4/89-81-52-50) is home to the world’s largest assemblage of artwork by the multifaceted avant-garde créateur. The surrealist structure’s jagged concrete piers crawl down from the roof like tentacles.
Photo by Olivier Amsellem/Courtesy of Agence Rudy Ricciotti
Even by Chinese standards, Guangzhou’s transformation from a gritty industrial port into a gleaming metropolis for Chinese culture has been lightning-fast. Now, China’s third-largest city, just 130 miles north of Hong Kong, has been raising its arts profile. The most striking example? A new cultural complex overlooking the Pearl River that includes a museum, a library, and the dazzling Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid. The contoured structure, with its 1,804-seat auditorium and a smaller black-box theater in conjoined granite-clad wings, was inspired by a pair of boulders worn smooth by water. The highlight of the inaugural season: the first Guangzhou Arts Festival, with performances by Spain’s National Ballet (Sept. 23–24), the Vienna Boys’ Choir (Oct. 15), and the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Dec. 30–31).
Boston: After opening the Art of the Americas wing by Foster & Partners, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, continues its renovation with seven galleries devoted to contemporary art in the Linde Family Wing. First show: wood sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly on September 18. 465 Huntington Ave..
Montreal: Music director Kent Nagano leads the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to inaugurate the concert hall (Sept. 7), designed by Toronto architects Diamond & Schmitt. Rufus Wainwright joins the orchestra in a program featuring his own songs (Oct. 5). 1600 Rue St.-Urbain.
Shanghai: Renovated by French architecture firm Jouin Manku, complete with retro-futuristic curves, the seven-room Swatch Art Peace Hotel(pictured; 23 E. Nanjing Rd.; 86-21/2329-8500; doubles from $695) will open in October in a 1908 building on the Bund. The Swatch Group will display its latest watch models at on-site boutiques, while a six-month residency program will host artists to live, work, and exhibit on the premises.
Amsterdam: New this month, and a short stroll from the Rijksmuseum, the Conservatorium Hotel(27 Van Baerlestraat; 31-20/670-1811; doubles from $501) has 129 minimalist, light-filled guest rooms, designed by Milanese architect Piero Lissoni, in an 1897 Renaissance Revival building. Many suites are laid out as duplexes, and a vast lobby flanks the structure’s original skylit courtyard.