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Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

contributed by 323 World Architecture Festival , 28 May 2009

 

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Description Nelson Atkins Museum of Art:

The expansion of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art fuses architecture with landscape to create an experiential architecture that unfolds for visitors as it is perceived through each individual’s movement through space and time. The new addition, named the Bloch Building, is the centerpiece of the Museum’s strategic plan to expand its capacity to engage, educate and serve the community. Extending along the eastern edge of the campus, it is distinguished by five glass "lenses," traversing from the existing building through the Sculpture Park to form new spaces and angles of vision.

Moving through the new addition, visitors experience a flow between light, art, architecture and landscape, with views from one level to another, from inside to outside. The threaded movement between the light-gathering “lenses” of the new addition weaves the building with the landscape in a fluid dynamism based on a sensitive relationship to its context. Rather than an addition of mass, the new elements exist in complementary contrast with the original 1933 neo-classical building. The innovative merging of landscape, architecture and art was executed through close collaboration with museum curators and artists, to achieve a dynamic and supportive relationship between art and architecture.

The first of the five lenses forms a bright and transparent lobby, with café, art library and bookstore, inviting the public into the Museum and encouraging movement via ramps toward the galleries as they progress downward into the Sculpture Park. From the lobby a new cross-axis connects through to the original building’s grand spaces. At night the glowing glass volume of the lobby provides an inviting transparency, drawing visitors to events and activities.

The lenses, multiple layers of translucent glass gather, diffuse and refract light, at times materializing light like blocks of ice. During the day the lenses inject varying qualities of light into the galleries, while at night the Sculpture Park glows with their internal light. The continuum of gallery spaces, linked by both aligned openings for distant perspectives and openings offset within spaces, carries the visitor through the diverse variously scaled galleries. Particularity rather than repetition is employed, giving a unique spatial framework to each work of art and emphasizing differences of form, material and thinking behind the works.

A large reflecting pool incorporating the installation “One Sun/34 Moons” by artist Walter De Maria graces the granite-paved entrance plaza. The “moons” of the artwork are circular skylight discs in the bottom of the pool that project water-refracted natural light into the garage below. At night, light from the parking garage lifts up through the circles to illuminate the plaza.

The Bloch’s design which incorporates eight entrances and exits and allows visitors to move back and forth via ramps between the galleries and the Sculpture Park, as well as the Museum’s free admission policy, encourages the community to access the Museum over and over again. The Sculpture Park—open to the public 24-hours a day—is used by the community in various ways ranging from a morning run, to walking the dog over the meandering path between the lenses in the middle of the night. At all hours visitors can experience the Museum’s exterior spaces and sculpture courts created between the lenses in the Sculpture Park.

The new 165,000-square-foot expansion increases Museum space by more than 70 percent and features a cascading level of expansive, light-filled galleries. Since the Bloch Building opened in June 2007, Museum attendance has more than doubled. Last year The Nelson-Atkins welcomed over 100,000 children and adults with school groups, and over 10,000 visitors who were part of adult groups

Photograph by: Roland Halbe

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Information Nelson Atkins Museum of Art:

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WAF,
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Kansas City, United States of America




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