Museum swagger

Not even the automobile, our popular form of transportation, has undergone as many stunning architectural changes as have some of our contemporary art museums.  These structures, forcefully disavowing the famous classical Greek order of things, zip off and sway back, lurk and lunge to stir things up, not settle them down.

The most dramatic of the many now causing public ogling is the famous Bilboa Guggenheim Museum acclaimed to be Frank Gehry’s masterpiece. Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect, interested in translating organic form into fixed form, designed a wing-like brise soleil as part of his dramatic addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Now Daniel Libeskind can smile with satisfaction as his addition to the Denver Art Museum has opened and made its various titanium forms complements to the Rocky Mountains that caught the architect’s eyes.

In a statement on the museum’s website, Libeskind says of this work: it is “an icon whose character and form will attract a wide public to the museum.”

Traditional museum architecture, like its bank building look alike, sternly impressed the visitor to tread softly and proceed with a sober demeanor.

Libeskind says his building “does not separate inside from outside.”  The “classical” forms have been laid to rest, and the new asymmetries that jut and twist suggest that building and collection share a new dynamic that causes the art viewer’s feet to tingle.

The public  reception?  Condominiums in a new building across the street from the Libeskind addition found that the condos facing the museum addition sold more quickly than those facing the Rocky Mountains.

Ray Betts