Kimbell Art Museum

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Museum building

The Kimbell Art Museum is an art museum in Fort Worth , Texas , United States.


The initiative to build an art museum for the residents of Texas came from the Texan industrialist and collector Kay Kimbell (1886 - April 1964). In his will he stipulated that such a museum should be built. His wife Velma Fuller Kimbell decided to use the entire inheritance for this purpose and donated her portion of the inheritance to the Kimbell Art Foundation , which is still the operator of the museum and its collection. Entry is free for all time.

The Board of Trustees subsequently dealt intensively with museum architecture, visited museums in Europe and the United States and consulted with leading museum directors and art experts. In 1965 Richard Fargo Brown became the first director. As a result, the collection concept and a detailed spatial program for the museum to be planned were worked out. The contract to plan the museum was awarded directly to Louis I. Kahn in the fall of 1966 , and Kahn began designing the following winter. By 1969, four versions had been created for the project. The museum was opened in 1972. In 2008 the museum announced expansion by the architect Renzo Piano .


View from west

The building is surrounded on three sides by streets, to the west is a park that existed before 1972. Kahn directed the main entrance there. Access for visitors with cars is from the parking lot in the north and east on a lower level, so that the building is entered in the basement. A symmetrical staircase leads from there to the central entrance hall. The delivery was accommodated on the north side - also on the lower level. To the south there are terraced green spaces and a sculpture garden.

The ground floor plan shows a three-part, symmetrical structure of the museum. In the middle is the entrance courtyard, the foyer with the museum shop, behind it an administration zone and the entrance to the library on the first floor. In the south wing there is the area for temporary exhibitions, a café by an atrium and an auditorium . The north wing is used completely as an exhibition area, in the middle of which two atriums were arranged. Further ancillary rooms were accommodated in the basement. The floor space is around 11,000 square meters.

View from the south, shell elements

Kahn divided the total area into elementary units. The building consists of a total of sixteen parallel barrel roofs . Six each form the north and south wings and four form the central building. These barrel roofs, which decisively shape the structure of the building, are each 30.5 m long, 6 m high and 7 m wide on the inside. They each consist of two thin pre - stressed concrete shells , which are separated from one another by a light slot at the top and only connected by short concrete rods every three meters. The shape of the roof corresponds to a cycloid , the curve that a point on a wheel describes as it rolls, which results in the desired low but elegant roof shape. Unlike real vaults , the roof shells developed by August Komendant for Kahn only rest on supports at their end points. From a static and constructive point of view, they are more like curved concrete beams than barrel vaults. The wide-span construction made it possible to achieve great flexibility within the exhibition area. Between the individual roof elements there are lower zones for technical installations in the ceiling area. The very large, flat room is structured and subdivided by the barrel roofs and the associated interplay of light-dark / arching-flat ceiling / high-low.

Much of the museum is naturally lit , and Kahn consciously used daylight to structure the space . He used the light in a variety of ways, reducing, reflecting and filtering it, so that the homogeneous daylight resulted in a wide variety of light, space and color configurations.

Interior of the museum in "silver light"
  • In the vertex of the roof shells, a light slit is arranged. A "light body" (Kahn) distributes the daylight evenly in the room and at the same time prevents glare . The element was designed based on the angle of incidence of the sun and consists of a bent aluminum sheet that is 50% perforated. The arches with their "silver light" practically form a reflector screen that optimally illuminates the wall and floor.
  • The inner courtyards with their “green light” loosen up the floor plan so that a wealth of different spatial impressions emerges.
  • There are no windows and no external reference. Although the building is flooded with daylight, it still remains completely introverted.

Kahn said: Every building, every room needs natural light; because natural light has the mood of the day. The seasons are brought into the room. You could even say that the sun didn't know how big it was before it brushed the wall of a house. When the light falls into a room, it is your light, it is there for you and for no one else. It belongs to this room. The Kimbell Art Museum uses all natural light.

The museum building designed by Kahn and largely influenced by his structural engineer and prestressed concrete expert August E. Komendant was awarded the Twenty-five Year Award of the American Institute of Architects in 1998.


The museum has no actual collection focus, but acquires and presents in the permanent collection works of art from different eras and countries, especially from Western Europe (including medieval art) and Asia (China, Japan), ancient art (Egypt, Assyria, Rome, Greece), but also art from Africa, Oceania and pre-Columbian art.

American art is not collected because the neighboring Amon Carter Museum is “responsible” for it, and art from the mid-20th century is also not collected, as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is in the immediate vicinity in Fort Worth .

The collection includes works by Duccio ( Resurrection of Lazarus ), Fra Angelico , Parmigianino , Giovanni Bellini , Andrea Mantegna , Michelangelo ( The Temptation of Saint Anthony ) , Adam Elsheimer ( Flight into Egypt ), Jan Mabuse , Lucas Cranach the Elder , Caravaggio , Tizian , Canaletto , Giovanni Battista Tiepolo , Nicolas Poussin ( Venus and Adonis ), Georges de la Tour ( cardsharps with ace of clubs , Saint Sebastian and Irene ), Claude Lorrain , Watteau , François Boucher , El Greco ( Dr. Francisco de Pisa ), Diego Velázquez ( Don Pedro de Barberana ), Murillo , Jusepe de Ribera , Gianlorenzo Bernini , Francesco Guardi , Peter Paul Rubens ( Duke of Buckingham on horseback ), Frans Hals , Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael , Rembrandt ( portrait of a young Jew ), Francisco de Goya ( picture of the matador Pedro Romero ), Joshua Reynolds , Thomas Gainsborough , George Romney , Thomas Lawrence , William Turner ( Glaucus and Scylla ), Antonio Canova , Caspar David Friedrich , Frederic Leighton ( portrait of May Sartoris ), J.-BC Corot , Jacques-Louis David , Eugène Delacroix , Camille Pissarro , Gustave Courbet , Claude Monet ( La Pointe de la Hève at low tide , weeping willows ), Édouard Manet ( portrait Georges Clemenceau ), Paul Gauguin ( self-portrait ), Edgar Degas , Cézanne ( Maison Maria with a view of Chateau Noire, man in blue skirt ), Pablo Picasso ( man with a pipe ), Joan Miró , Piet Mondrian , Henri Matisse ( Asia ), Georges Braque , James Ensor , Edvard Munch ( Girl on the Bridge ). Traveling exhibitions also take place regularly.


Web links

Commons : Kimbell Art Museum  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 32 ° 44 ′ 55 "  N , 97 ° 21 ′ 55.5"  W.