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In the Air – Art+Auction's Gossip Column

D.C. Megacollectors Mitchell and Emily Rales Unveil Plans to Expand Their Museum

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On Monday the notoriously secretive billionaire industrialist Mitchell Rales and his art historian and curator wife Emily Rales gathered a small selection of Maryland’s cultural elite on the remarkably landscaped grounds of Glenstone, just north of the Potomac — beneath a giant floral sculpture by Jeff Koons — to outline their plans for making their extensive private art collection more available to the public, the Washington Post reports.

After a bit of a delay over utility hookups last year, the Rales are continuing with the expansion, preparing the construction of a 150,000-square-foot building, six times larger than the existing 25,000-square-foot structure. While details concerning the nature of public access have yet to be addressed, it is pretty safe to say that Glenstone will be prepared to exhibit a much larger selection of the Rales’ vast collection.

“Our hope is that for future generations the name Glenstone will conjure images of the unique setting created by the seamless integration of art, architecture, and landscape,” the collectors explain on the Glenstone website, “and that it will evoke the restorative experience fostered by the combination of these elements.”

Arts education has been a primary focus at Glenstone since it’s first building, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, was opened in 2006, by appointment only, but free to the public. Led by the collections education facilitators, High school students from the D.C. metro area were only able to check a small portion of the vast collection, but received a crash course in biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, and the entirely organically-maintained landscape of the 200 acres of grounds.

Sited on the quiet Glen Road in Maryland’s Montgomery County, Glenstone takes its name from its location and the numerous stone quarries surrounding it. The elusive Rales made a very deliberate choice in using this name instead of their own, taking the emphasis away from their involvement in the collection process. The new building is due to be completed in 2016.

— Meredith Caraher

(Photo via Steven Baumgartner/Twitter.)

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