an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Trial-By-Ice: How’s the Kimbell’s New Piano Pavilion Doing after the Storm? UPDATED


Kimbell Art Museum director Eric Lee, in balmier times, on museum’s not-so-green green roof (solar-paneled, louvered roof behind him)
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

UPDATE: Late opening tomorrow (Tuesday): noon instead of 10 a.m.

The Kimbell Art Museum’s new Renzo Piano Pavilion has undergone trial-by-ice.

Having endured a treacherous wintery storm that paralyzed much of North Texas, the museum was closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (It’s also closed today, but it’s always closed on Mondays.) At this writing, there’s no indication on the Kimbell’s homepage or on its “Visit” page as to whether it will reopen tomorrow.

“It’s been a crazy storm—lots of water and freezing conditions,” Jessica Brandrup, the museum’s head of marketing and public relations, told me yesterday. “The museum’s policy is to close if our local school district closes…I expect that we will open on Tuesday. As far as I know, the [Piano] building is performing as intended and the works on display are secure.”

Today, Jessica gave me this update: “The roof is performing as intended. The landscape is still covered in ice, but we expect the plantings to recover.”

During my recent visit for the press preview of the new building, I was told that in the event of severe weather, the sunlight-admitting louvers on the new pavilion’s roof can fold totally shut. I was also told by the architect, when I chatted with him briefly in front of the museum’s famous Caravaggio, that one of the problems causing the temporary closure of the top floor of his Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago had to do with ice on the roof from that city’s blustery winters.

Architect Renzo Piano in front of Kimbell Art Museum's signature Caravaggio, "The Cardsharps," installed on concrete wall in the new Piano Pavilion Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Architect Renzo Piano in front of Kimbell Art Museum’s signature Caravaggio, “The Cardsharps,” in the new Piano Pavilion
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

One of the reasons why the Piano Pavilion opened with the Kimbell’s permanent collection, rather than with a temporary exhibition (for which that space was designed), was that shows in a new building aren’t eligible for federal indemnity insurance. Challenging weather conditions are presumably a test museum buildings must pass before the federal indemnity program is willing to assume risks.

While the roof is said to have passed this test, I’m not as optimistic as Jessica about some of the new plantings:

Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

an ArtsJournal blog