Art 'In Its Own Glory' in Bigger Cleveland Museum

By Sheeran, Thomas J | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 28, 2009 | Go to article overview

Art 'In Its Own Glory' in Bigger Cleveland Museum


Sheeran, Thomas J, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


CLEVELAND -- Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Rodin and other masters are the stars of the biggest expansion in the history of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and that suits architect Rafael Vinoly just fine.

"When you feel that you are looking at the art and that the building accompanies the art -- as opposed to opposes it or challenging it -- I think I feel happy with that," Vinoly says.

The first of the museum's new galleries opened Saturday, part of an eight-year, $335 million renovation that will increase the museum's size by 50 percent by 2013.

Vinoly, whose credits include convention centers in Pittsburgh and Boston, Philadelphia's major performing arts center and the glass-walled Tokyo International Forum conference center, recently got his first look at art installed in his galleries.

"It was the first time, I must say, that I actually saw the collection in its own glory," Vinoly says.

The expansion sits alongside the museum's 1916 Beaux-Arts building and the fortress-like Marcel Breuer-designed 1971 building. Vinoly says his challenge was to try to relate the two very different landmarks.

The collection made Vinoly's first decision an easy one: There was no need for an eye-catching addition.

"If you have nothing to show (in a museum), you make a splash with a building. But if you have something to show, the last thing you should do is to make the scene of the collection being compromised by the architecture," he says.

Vinoly's design will include three wings and a soaring glass atrium linking the buildings. The opening of the first wing, striped marble and granite with a glass-box gallery, will mark the return to public view of 19th century European art, modern and contemporary art and photographs in storage since 2005. …

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