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S t u d y d e s i g n Solar Control To mitigate the Texas sun, museum architects have devised increasingly complex strategies b y J . B r a n t l e y H i g h t o w e r , AIA Jean-Paul Viguier’s Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio represents the latest example of what has become a growing typology in the state—the art museum with a glass ceiling. This development might seem odd in a state known for its blisteringly hot summers and intense sunlight, but the concept of lighting works of art from above is not a particularly new development. The standard model for countless nineteenth-century museums was to place painted works on upper floors where skylights could illuminate them from above. However, the first half of the twentieth century saw a movement away from this strategy. With the development of the electric light and a shift in curatorial attitudes toward preservation as well as display, the next generation of museums were designed as hermetically sealed boxes with little or no connection to daylight. Louis Kahn’s 1972 Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth represented a shift away from that trend. The museum’s founding director, Richard Brown, had developed an affinity for natural light from his work in museums that had followed the nineteenth-century skylight model. As Brown stated in both his initial letter to Kahn and in the program eventually developed for the Kimbell, daylight was a requirement for the galleries. Kahn’s previous work had consistently shown a great respect 34 t e x a s a r c h i t e c t 5 / 6 2 0 0 9

Texas Architect May/June 2009: Art Venues

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