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New Building Expands Kimbell Art Museum

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FORT WORTH (AP) - The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth is expanding its gallery space with a new building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano that is a nod to the museum’s original Louis Kahn-designed building.

“There are so many echoes of the Khan building here,” said museum director Eric M. Lee as he stood in one of the new building’s galleries. “The facade is the same length as the facade of the Kahn building and both are broken down into three equal bays, with a lobby in the center and galleries to the north and to the south.”

The grand opening ceremony for the Renzo Piano Pavilion is set for Wednesday. The pavilion’s colonnaded structure, about 100,000 square feet (9,290 square meters), is located about 65 yards (60 meters) to the west of Kahn’s 120,000-square-foot (11,150-square-meter) vaulted museum building, which opened in 1972. The new building, made of glass, concrete and wood, consists of two parallel wings connected by two glass passageways. In addition to gallery space, the new building includes classrooms, an expanded library and an auditorium.

“The great challenge was: How do you build next to one of the most significant works of architecture of the past century?” said Lee. “The Kahn building is as great a work of art as anything we have in the collection. In many ways, this building is very much about the Kahn building. This is how Renzo Piano decided to respond to the site. He wanted to engage the Kahn building in a conversation.”

“Lee added, “He’s designed a museum that’s deferential and respectful to the Kahn building but Renzo is also remaining true to himself.”

The expansion will now allow the museum to display most of its permanent collection while also hosting exhibits. In the past, the museum has been forced to put much of its permanent collection in storage when it hosts special exhibitions.

Lee estimates that the $135 million expansion triples the gallery space available for the museum’s permanent collection.

That permanent collection ranges from Egyptian antiquities to European art from the Italian Renaissance to Asian, African and pre-Columbian objects. The collection includes works by Caravaggio, Poussin, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Monet, Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse.

Piano has designed several museums, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. Kahn, who died in 1974, also designed the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art.

The Kimbell is currently hosting an exhibit of modern works from the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibit titled “The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters from the Art Institute of Chicago” features almost 100 works, including those by Picasso and Matisse and runs through Feb. 16. The Kimbell is the only venue for that exhibit.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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