Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

The easiest expansion: Onto the roof

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At a time when it seems like only art museums in the wealthiest communities can expand, where can the ambitious art museum find more exhibition/collection space? Up above, on the roof.

Sure enough, in recent years more and more museums are using their roofs as a place for a sculpture garden, an installation, or something similar.

It’s hard to know who was first. (Readers?) Certainly the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been hosting dry, blue-chip sculpture exhibitions for years.

SFMOMA’s indoor+outdoor  sculpture garden, built on top of the museum’s parking garage and opened in 2009, is similarly blue-chip (and offers similarly fantastic views of nearby architectural gems). Similarly, this Walter De Maria is on top of the Nelson-Atkins’ parking structure… but it’s not the same. [Image: Alexander Calder and 140 New Montgomery Street, via Flickr user Crystal Luxmore.]

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s Tadao Ando-designed building also has room for a roof-top sculpture garden. For now the only artwork that’s up there is this Henry Moore. It doesn’t offer views of skyscrapers or a well-designed urban park, but it’s a space with potential. (Well, at least during three seasons of the year…)

This season the Wexner Center for the Arts has opened a new rooftop installation, the Wexner Center Roof Garden (at left), by artist and landscape designer Paula Hayes. The garden will sit atop the Wexner’s film/video theater and near Maya Lin’s Groundswell (1993). It will feature plants that will thrive in all four seasons, as well as Hayes’ familiar silicone sculptural planters. (Robert Irwin, Fritz Haeg: Plant your hearts out.) You can see an always-popular time-lapse video of installation here.

The idea is also popular enough that new art museum buildings are being built with ready-made rooftop sculpture gardens. The under-construction, Shigeru Ban-designed Aspen (Colo.) Art Museum will feature a rooftop sculpture space.

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  1. Erwin Keustermans says:

    I believe that the Fundació Joan Miró was designed from the start in 1975 to have a rooftop display space. I know, it’s not the States, but pretty early, no?

  2. […] Tyler Green featured the Paula Hayes garden in something of a “roof garden roundup” in his Modern Art Notes, and especially noted the time-lapse video of the installation. This Columbus Dispatch feature and […]

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