Kimbell Art Museum – Fort Worth, Texas

The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, hosts an art collection as well as traveling art exhibitions, educational programs, and an extensive research library. Its initial artwork came from the private collection of Kay and Velma Kimbell, who also provided funds for a new building to house it.

The building was designed by architect Louis I. Kahn and is widely recognized as one of the most significant works of architecture of recent times. It is especially noted for the wash of silvery natural light across its vaulted gallery ceilings.

The distinct form of the Kimbell Museum’s cycloid barrel vaults is rimmed with narrow plexiglass skylights, providing room for natural light to penetrate into the spaces. To diffuse this light, pierced aluminum reflectors shaped like wings hang below, illuminating the smooth surfaces of the concrete vault while providing elegant and enchanting light conditions for the works of art.

Three 100-foot bays that are each fronted by a barrel-vaulted portico comprise the main facade to the west, where the central entrance is marked by its glazing and recession from the rest of the facade. The building is punctuated by three courtyards, allowing for more light, airflow, and relationships between interior and exterior spaces.

The Collection

In 1966, before the museum even had a building, founding director Brown included this directive in his Policy Statement: “The goal shall be definitive excellence, not the size of the collection.” Accordingly, the museum’s collection today consists of only about 350 works of art, but they are of notably high quality.

The European collection is the most extensive in the museum and includes Michelangelo’s first known painting, The Torment of Saint Anthony, the only painting by Michelangelo on exhibit in the Americas. It also includes works by Duccio, Fra Angelico, Mantegna, El Greco, Carracci, Caravaggio, Rubens, Guercino, La Tour, Poussin, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Boucher, Gainsborough, Vigée-Lebrun, Friedrich (the first painting by the artist acquired by a public collection outside of Europe), Cézanne, Monet, Caillebotte, Matisse, Bonnard,[12] Mondrian, Braque, Miró and Picasso. Works from the classical period include antiquities from Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and Rome.

The Asian collection comprises sculptures, paintings, bronzes, ceramics, and works of decorative art from China, Korea, Japan, India, Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia, and Thailand. Precolumbian art is represented by Maya works in ceramic, stone, shell, and jade, Olmec, Zapotec, and Aztec sculpture, as well as pieces from the Conte and Huari cultures. The African collection consists primarily of bronze, wood, and terracotta sculpture from West and Central Africa, including examples from Nigeria, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Oceanic art is represented by a Maori figure.

The museum owns only a few pieces created after the mid-20th century (believing that era to be the province of its neighbor, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth) and no American art (believing that to be the province of its other neighbor, the Amon Carter Museum).

The museum also houses a substantial library with over 59,000 books, periodicals, and auction catalogs that are available as a resource to art historians and to faculty and graduate students from surrounding universities.

Fort Worth Botanic Gardens >

Fort Worth, TX >