Feast for the Eyes
New or expanded art museums get the creative juices coursing and breathe artistic life into an itinerary. Here, five just-completed projects that should figure into your 2014 travel plans.
NEW ON THE SCENE
BRISCOE WESTERN ART MUSEUM, San Antonio
Design talk: The 38,000-square-foot museum has 15,000 square feet of exhibition space in a historic 1930s art deco/neoclassical building. Look for it on the San Antonio River Walk adjacent to La Villita Historic Arts Village and the Arneson River Theatre.
Raison d'être: Preserves and interprets the art, history, and culture of the American West. The museum embraces San Antonio's goal of transforming the urban landscape and connecting visitors to restored historic sites with public art in large outdoor spaces.
The experience: Has galleries on three levels and an outdoor sculpture garden. Outside, Checkmate, a life-size bronze piece by nationally recognized sculptor Herb Mignery, greets passers-by.
Be sure to see: The Night of Artists Exhibition & Sale on March 29 will spotlight more than 60 of the country's top Western artists. A monthlong exhibition follows, March 30-April 27.
Good to know: Named in memory of the Texas governor and philanthropist Dolph Briscoe Jr. and his wife, Janey Slaughter Briscoe.
More info: 210-299-4499; briscoemuseum.org
FONDATION PIERRE ARNAUD, Lens/Crans-Montana, Switzerland
Design talk: Architect Jean-Pierre Emery wanted the main facade of this museum - at press time scheduled for a late-December 2013 opening - to be a mirror reflecting the surrounding landscape like a painting while the rest of the building blended into the environment and "disappeared" beneath a roof garden. Its striking presence indeed merges perfectly with the countryside.
Raison d'être: Presents interesting and unusual international exhibitions of European and non-European modern art.
The experience: Its 10,760 square feet of exhibition space on two levels features a spare, minimalist aesthetic. The "magic panels" of the signature southern facade - "mirrors on the outside, an opalescent cathedral inside" - not only reflect Louche Lake and the surrounding mountains, they optimally filter light for the enhancement and protection of the art, produce energy from photovoltaic cells, and create spectacular LED illuminations.
Be sure to see: The inaugural exhibition - "Divisionism. Mastery of Colour? Effusion of Colour!" - presents outstanding paintings by Swiss artists Cuno Amiet and Giovanni Giacometti, Italian artist Giovanni Segantini, and French artist Georges Seurat through April 22.
Good to know: The rooftop garden offers a stunning view over the surrounding alpine panorama.
More info: fondationpierrearnaud.ch
MUSEO JUMEX, Mexico City
Design talk: David Chipperfield's first Latin American architectural work. The five-floor building's distinctive shape honors its origin and surroundings by incorporating local materials, such as travertine marble from Xalapa, Veracruz.
Raison d'être: Funded by Eugenio López Alonso and his company, the juice giant Grupo Jumex, it's the main showcase for Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, which boasts one of Mexico's most significant collections: Colección Jumex. Focuses on contemporary art from the 1990s to the present, including important works by Mexican contemporary artists.
The experience: Incorporates areas of meeting, exchange, and relaxation designed to make the museum a lively space where visitors can reflect on, get to know, and experience contemporary art.
Be sure to see: "A Space in Two Dimensions: A Selection From the Jumex Collection and Fred Sandback," through Feb. 9. See minimalist Sandback's lengths of acrylic yarn stretched in different configurations to outline space and volume, as well as works by Carl Andre, Maurizio Cattelan, Robert Gober, and Donald Judd.
Good to know: Its location concentrates some truly amazing art in Mexico City's emerging Ampliación Granada neighborhood. The Museo Soumaya, a private museum built by telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, is right next door and features an astonishing collection of 15th- to 20th-century European works, Mexican art, religious relics, historical documents, and coins.
More info: fundacionjumex.org
KIMBELL ART MUSEUM, Fort Worth, Texas
Design talk: The $135 million Renzo Piano Pavilion, designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Kendall/Heaton Associates, consists of two wings connected by two glazed passageways. Exuding simplicity and lightness, it's primarily made of glass, architectural concrete, and wood and stands 65 yards west of Louis Kahn's 1972 signature vaulted museum.
Raison d'être: The Kimbell now has enough space to keep its renowned permanent collection on view while hosting loan exhibitions. The new South Gallery displays temporary exhibitions; the North Gallery, works from the collection.
The experience: Corrects the former tendency of visitors to enter by what was essentially the Kimbell's back door on the west side. Now, the west entrance is the primary approach, and the first impression is of Kahn's impressive entrance portico. Once inside the new pavilion, it's all about the light and the art.
Be sure to see: More than 140 remarkable objects from one of the best and largest collections of the war accoutrements of ancient Japan's military elite, on display in "Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection," Feb. 16-Aug. 17.
Good to know: Only a third of the Pavilion's interior is above ground, making it exceptionally energy-efficient. Better yet, the 19,200-square-foot green (sod) roof is accessible to the public as part of the Kimbell's 4 acres of green space.
More info: 817-332-8451; kimbellart.org
QUEENS MUSEUM (formerly the Queens Museum of Art), New York
Design talk: This $68 million expansion, designed by Grimshaw Architects, doubles the institution's size to 105,000 square feet. The additions include new galleries and artist studios.
Raison d'être: Enhances the museum's ability to present high-quality art to the diverse communities of Queens through a broad variety of exhibitions and programs curated to reflect the richness and breadth of the cultural environment.
The experience: The redesigned west facade, facing Grand Central Parkway, not only has a new entrance but also features a drop-off plaza and a 200-by-27-foot glass wall seen by drivers passing by. Commissioned artworks will adhere to the glass surface incorporating a multicolored lighting system. There's a second new entrance and expanded outdoor space on the Flushing Meadows Corona Park side of the building, as well as a skylit atrium.
Be sure to see: A reinstallation of the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass and a new open storage facility with artifacts from the 1939 and 1964 New York World's Fairs.
Good to know: Taiwan-born, Queens-based photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao photographed the expansion work throughout construction, capturing the historic building's transformation. A series of his large-scale photographs are presented alongside archival photographs and blueprints.
More info: 718-592-9700; queensmuseum.org