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Rendering of the Kemper Art Museum. Photo: KieranTimberlake/studioAMD.
Rendering of the Kemper Art Museum. Photo: KieranTimberlake/studioAMD.

Expanded Kemper Art Museum to Reopen in September

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in Saint Louis will reopen this fall following the completion of a major expansion project. Led by the architecture firm KieranTimberlake, the revamp is part of the university’s $280 million transformation of its Danforth Campus. The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts’ newly constructed Anabeth and John Weil Hall, which will feature studios and classrooms for art and architecture students, will also be unveiled in October.

“This is the dawn of a new era for Washington University and the Sam Fox School,” Carmon Colangelo, dean of the Sam Fox School, said in a statement. “Weil Hall and the expanded Kemper Art Museum demonstrate the important role that art, architecture and design education play within a top-tier private research university.”

The museum will boast a new thirty-foot-tall polished stainless-steel facade, a soaring glass-lined lobby featuring an installation by artist Tomás Saraceno, and 50 percent more exhibition space. The new 2,700-square-foot James M. Kemper Gallery, with its double-height walls, will showcase a range of postwar and contemporary art, and the reconfigured Gertrude Bernoudy Gallery, on the second floor, will provide a more intimate viewing experience for works from the institution’s collection of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century European and American artists. Visitors can also enjoy a new coffee bar, several new galleries on the museum’s lower level, and the museum’s first permanent space devoted to video art.

“This expansion creates exciting new opportunities for public dialogue and prolonged visual engagement,” the museum’s director and chief curator, Sabine Eckmann, said in a statement. “Taken together, these changes will provide visitors with a powerful aesthetic experience while improving the museum’s ability to realize temporary exhibitions, collaborate with peer institutions, and showcase works that have only rarely been on view.”

The exhibition “Ai Weiwei: Bare Life,” on the Chinese artist’s activism and engagement with China’s past, will inaugurate the space. Featuring more than thirty artworks created in a wide variety of media over the past two decades, the show will be on view through January 5, 2020.