FORT WORTH, TEX. – The Amon Carter Museum, one of the nation’s finest collections of American art, has announced it will reopen Sunday, October 21, following its two-year, $39 million expansion. The new, 109,000-square foot building will have three times the exhibition space as before, allowing four times the amount of artwork to be on view.
The Carter, which opened in 1961, was established through the generosity of Amon G. Carter Sr (1879-1955) to house his collection of approximately 400 paintings and sculptures by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The initial collection has since grown to almost 250,000 works of American art, including masterpieces in painting, sculpture, photography and works on paper by leading figures working in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. The photography collection alone is one of the largest and most significant in the country. As a whole, the Carter’s collection presents a vivid panorama of American art and culture from 1825 to 1950.
The trademark façade and 19,000 square feet of architect Philip Johnson’s original structure remain intact, while the earlier additions (1964 and 1975) have been replaced with new construction. The 95-year old Johnson and his firm, Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, returned to the Carter to design the expansion, resulting in what Johnson has called “by far the best new building plan we have ever done.” Thus, the architecture of the museum, both old and new, spans the career of one of the world’s most distinguished architects.
The addition, covered in a beautiful brown Narjan granite that was quarried in Saudi Arabia and fabricated in Italy, was designed as an understated backdrop for the 1961 building, complementing its exterior of creamy Texas shellstone. The result is a stunning, yet functional, structure of timeless design that will provide expanded areas not only for the collection but also for research, education, membership activities and other programs.
Visitors will proceed from the original building into a spacious, 55-foot high atrium that is capped by a “vaulted lanterns” rooftop dome. This space provides the transition from the original building to the expanded areas.
Central to the expansion is the addition of almost 20,000 square feet of gallery space, with spacious new galleries devoted to specific areas of the collection. The original building’s small size so restricted the number of works on view that the first full year following the reopening will showcase works from the museums’ permanent collection. Exhibitions of art will change approximately four times each year in four of the galleries, so about 500 new works of art will be on view every three to four months. The first special exhibition at the museum will open in September 2002.