The Walker Art Center will open its expanded 17-acre urban campus in April 2005, doubling the size of its existing building and significantly enhancing the Walker’s exceptional public programming. The development of the new Walker exemplifies the deepening of the institution’s commitment to commissioning and presenting innovative contemporary art; fostering the cross-pollination of the visual, performing, and media arts; and engaging diverse audiences in the excitement of the creative process. The new Walker Art Center will encompass 260,000 square feet and include:
- a suite of new galleries for the permanent collection and special exhibitions;
- education areas woven throughout the campus where visitors can participate in making and learning about art, as well an expanded teen center;
- a new 385-seat performance space for dance, music, and theater programs;
- a refurbished screening room for film and new media;
- street-level and roof-top public terraces, plazas, gardens, and lounges;
- a newly commissioned outdoor work by James Turrell;
- an expanded library;
- increased services and amenities for visitors, including the selection of Wolfgang Puck as the restaurateur for a new full-service restaurant and informal café.
To secure its future at its current location, the Walker purchased property adjacent to the Center using $11 million from its endowment. The $67.5 million expansion will extend the Walker’s role as a ‘town square’ at the city’s hub — a gathering place for community programs and activities, contemplation, and relaxation — and will include the creation of a new public park. The project campaign also will add $24.5 million in endowment funds for the Center’s operations.
The new design both mirrors and advances the Walker’s approach of integrating and linking ideas, viewpoints, and disciplines by physically interweaving exhibition galleries, performance and event spaces, interactive educational areas, lounges for audio and video presentations, gardens, and interior and exterior spaces. The Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron, and the Minneapolis-based architectural firm Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc., are collaborating with the Walker Art Center on the site plan and design.
“The Walker Art Center has an unparalleled commitment to fostering new ways of thinking about, learning from, and experiencing the contemporary arts for diverse audiences,” said Kathy Halbreich, Director of the Walker. “Equally fundamental is our dedication to offering artists the opportunity to make new work that reveals the questions that shape us as individuals, communities, and cultures. The expansion grows out of these values and the tremendous public response to our programming, which has made the Walker one of the top 10 most-visited art museums in the country.”
The Walker is the leading contemporary arts center in the United States based on the depth, range, and vitality of its visual, performing, and media arts programs. Individually, these programs stand among the leading contemporary visual and performing arts centers in the nation and, collectively, they form an institution that is without peer. The Walker’s consistent emphasis on innovation in all artistic disciplines has made the Center a fulcrum for shifting conceptions of contemporary art and a new multidisciplinary model for what a cultural institution can be.
Design for the New Walker
The design for the new Walker integrates its existing building within the expanded campus, both respecting the integrity of architect Edward Larrabee Barnes’ original design and engaging the surrounding neighborhood. A new entrance plaza to the east, on Minneapolis’ central artery, Hennepin Avenue, will open the Walker to the city and yield dramatic vistas onto the downtown skyline, while an entrance to the west will open onto a new four-acre public park. A third entrance will enable visitors to enter the Walker from a new underground parking facility. The new Walker will link distinct areas of the city — natural, residential, and metropolitan — physically and metaphorically connecting the urban downtown with the Uptown communities and neighborhoods.
The Walker’s new indoor spaces and terraces — along with the new park which will extend the 11-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden — will create a public town square, drawing visitors for programs, events, and discussion. The landscape architect for the park is Michel Desvigne, known for his innovative landscape designs throughout Europe.
A striking element of the new design will be a 130,000-square-foot south wing, which will house the Walker’s new theater as well as a new event space and restaurant. The exterior of the south wing will be covered with embossed aluminum mesh panels that will catch natural light and respond to the weather and the point of view of visitors, pedestrians, and drivers traveling past the building. After dark, the building will be lit from inside and out, creating a soft, luminous presence. Asymmetric windows will punctuate the new building’s façade, revealing activity inside the Walker to passersby and connecting visitors to the life of the street. Noted lighting designer Arnold Chan, founder of Isometrix Lighting + Design, has been selected by the Walker as part of the project team.
“Just as the Walker links artistic disciplines to educational and social experiences, the new design seamlessly weaves together indoor and outdoor spaces, presentation and education activities, our institution and the surrounding city,” said Halbreich. “The design overcomes the segmentation of exhibition space, performance space, education space, and public space that is found even in new museums, which often are still based on traditional hierarchies. The new Walker is about convergence, the coming together of all the art forms as well as audiences from down the street and around the globe. The project will not only expand our physical facility, it will expand the Walker’s role as a singular laboratory for continuous invention, as well as for imagining new environments to bring people together to share viewpoints that stretch our collective sense of who we are.”
New Installations and Exhibitions
The Walker’s collection has increased dramatically since it moved to its current site in 1971, and has grown 40 percent in the last decade alone. In the Walker’s former galleries, only a small percentage of its permanent holdings could be displayed at any time. The new Walker will increase total exhibition space by 33 percent, creating 11 exhibition spaces. The new galleries will allow the Walker to show more work by artists it has collected in depth, such as Joseph Beuys, Bruce Conner, Katharina Fritsch, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Claes Oldenburg, and Sigmar Polke, as well as major works by Chantal Akerman, Alighiero Boetti, David Hammons, Bruce Nauman, and Giulio Paolini.
The Walker’s decades-long emphasis on commissioning and collecting innovative works by artists from around the world, along with its exceptional record of supporting and acquiring emerging and mid-career artists, distinguishes its collections from those of other institutions. The new installations will reflect this philosophy, and include both exhibition galleries that provide a chronological perspective on artistic developments over the last 60 years, as well as galleries that explore evolving ideas, themes, and practices in contemporary art. The new installations will include:
— Four artists with whom the Walker has developed long-term relationships —
— will work with the Center to design the installation of their work.
Four Artists in Depth
, four artists who share a long history with the Walker, have been selected for a monographic presentation in four adjacent spaces within Gallery A. Each artist will be represented by a comprehensive group of works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and editions from the permanent collection.
— Keynote works from the collection will be brought together in an installation examining how these pieces evoke and question historical and contemporary mythologies. The exhibition will feature painting, sculpture, photography, and sound installations by
The Shape of Time
— A suite of three contiguous galleries will unfold a history of postwar modernism and its alternatives (among them Fluxus, Gutai, and Arte Povera). Featured will be
Bruce Conner, Alberto Giacometti, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Mario Merz, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Kazuo Shiraga, Sam Taylor-Wood,
Shadowland: An Exhibition as a Film
— a special exhibition drawn from the permanent collection will look at how reproduced and moving images have radically affected the nature of making art and exhibitions. Featured will be work by
Chantal Akerman, Bruce Baillie, Rineke Dijkstra, Fischli and Weiss, David Hammons, Craigie Horsfield, Derek Jarman, Bruce Nauman, Shirin Neshat, Catherine Opie, Philippe Parreno, Rirkrit Tiravanija,
— Minimalism, one of the strongest sections of the Walker’s collection, will be showcased in an installation of works by
Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra,
Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1968-2004
— including the artist’s first self-portrait, will feature works acquired by the Walker during its more than 30-year relationship with the artist, as well as significant loans. Focusing exclusively on Close’s work with self-portraiture — including painting, drawing, photography, collage, and printmaking — the exhibition will premiere at the Walker in summer 2005 and is co-organized with SFMOMA.
The Walker also has commissioned a Skyspace work by
, which will be located in the new four-acre park. This 23-foot-square underground room will feature seating for 30 people, who will be able to view the changing sky through an 11-foot square opening in the ceiling. Viewed from above ground, the piece will resemble a spare, minimalist cube in the landscape.
Theater and Performance Space
The Walker Art Center has one of the most active and influential contemporary performing arts programs in the country, presenting more than 70 events each year and commissioning works by pioneering artists in dance, music, theater, and performance art. The expanded Walker will feature a new 385-seat theater that will be equipped with the size stage and technological capacity normally found in a performance space more than twice its size. This unusual design will enable performers to present ambitious and technically complex works in an intimate setting.
The theater also will serve as a “research and development” space for new pieces, expanding the Walker’s ability to commission new works, support the development of groundbreaking performances, and foster mutual inspiration between film/video, new media, visual, and performing artists. Visitors will be able to attend the rehearsals of works in development, take master classes from visiting performers, and take part in workshops with artists, giving audiences the opportunity to step into the creative process. The Walker will continue to serve as a hub for programming and performances presented throughout the city.
A number of new commissions are in development for the opening months of the theater, including:
— new jazz installation inspired by works from the Walker’s visual arts collection;
•Bill T. Jones
— new Walker-commissioned work.
The Walker actively collaborates with major performing arts organizations such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center Festival, and the Wexner Center for the Arts in the commissioning of new pieces. Recent commissions that have been seen internationally after being developed at, or commissioned by, the Walker include:
Shirin Neshat and Sussan Deyhim’s Logic of the Birds, performed at Lincoln Center Festival; in London with support from co-commissioner Artangel; and at multiple European venues
Bill T. Jones’ The Table Project, performed at Aaron Davis Hall and across the U.S.;
Rennie Harris’ Facing Mekka, performed at the Joyce Theater and other U.S. venues;
Builder’s Association and London’s moti roti’s Alladeen, presented at BAM’s Next Wave Festival and venues across the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Film and Video
The Walker’s film/video program is recognized for screening moving-image arts that define and influence our time. Year-round screenings showcase contemporary and classic/historical works. New series will include:
Manifestos — Statements that Shape Cinema (from Kuleshov to Lars von Trier);
Sagas (contemporary films from Iceland);
Outside the System (work that champions artistic freedom and truly deserves the name Independent — from outside the systems of production or distribution);
100th anniversary — the filmmaker Jerome Hill (in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art and Anthology Film Archives).
The Walker’s popular film series will continue, including Regis Dialogues (which in the past have showcased the work of Matthew Barney, Gus Van Sant, and Agnes Varda, as well as Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, and Jodie Foster), Women with Vision, Summer Music and Movies, and the British Television Advertising Awards. In the new Walker, monitors in public spaces will feature ongoing presentations by contemporary artists, films from the Edmond R. Ruben Film Study Collection, and other works.
Public Spaces and Resources
Visitors entering the new Walker from Hennepin Avenue will come into an indoor plaza framed by 20-foot-high windows running parallel to the street. The plaza will serve as a lounge for informal gatherings and as an introduction to the Walker, with a visitor service area, an Info Lounge, and an “audio alcove” and “film alcove” featuring presentations on the Walker artists-in-residence. The new Walker Shop will also be located in this space.
The Info Lounge will feature a prototype interactive media table, called Dialog, where visitors can use digital technologies and media to learn more about artworks, performers, artists, and films through text, images, audio, and video clips. To overcome the isolating experience of sitting at a computer screen, Dialog is designed as a table and visitors use hand gestures, rather than a keyboard or mouse, to move through the information and images. Since several people can use Dialog at the same time, the experience is like surfing a social, rather than a personal computer.
An “interstitial” space between galleries, called Arcade, will feature interactive activities for discovering more about contemporary art and artists, making connections to the Walker’s collection, and seeing the evolution of different ideas and movements in the arts.
A remodeled and expanded entrance on the west side of the building will open onto the new four-acre park and feature an orientation area for the general public and school groups. In addition, two new lounges will face onto an expanded garden space. A new Art Lab, double the size of the current lab, will enable visitors to learn more about the process by which artists create works through participatory art-making programs and experiences. The new Walker also will feature a teen center to house the Center’s model program for young people.
A new restaurant and event space will be located above the theater and the Walker has selected Wolfgang Puck as restaurateur for the new facility. Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events will operate the new full-service restaurant and an informal café, and provide catering for special events at the Walker.
The Walker will be closed during the final phase of construction, but will continue its innovative public programming with Walker without Walls, a series of events and performances at venues throughout the Twin Cities from February 2004 to April 2005.
Herzog & de Meuron
have attracted critical praise for their architectural work around the world and have designed a wide variety of public and private buildings, including museums, residences, apartment buildings, libraries, schools, a sports complex, and office buildings. Their projects include London’s recently opened Tate Modern Bankside, Dominus Winery in Northern California’s Napa Valley, and the Goetz Collection gallery in Munich, Germany. They are the architects for the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, currently under construction. In 2001, Herzog & de Meuron were the winners of the Pritzker Prize, often called “the Nobel of architecture.”
Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc.
, based in Minneapolis, have more than 35 years of experience in designing museum buildings throughout the United States and are the local architects for the creation of the new Walker. The firm has been associated with the Walker since 1978 and was involved in the Walker’s 1984 expansion.
is the recipient of the Medal of the French Academy of Architecture (2000) and has taught at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. His projects include the Millennium Park in London’s Greenwich Peninsula and large public parks surrounding the Centraal Museum of Utrecht, the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp, and Fort Thungen Museum of Modern Art in Kirchberg, Luxembourg.
founded his London-based firm Isometrix Lighting + Design in 1984. Trained as an architect at London’s Architectural Association, Chan is recognized for his innovative and versatile approach to lighting design. His projects include the Grand Opera de Lyon (Jean Nouvel, architect); Calvin Klein, Tokyo (John Pawson, architect); Kenzo, London (David Chipperfield, architect); Philippe Starck-designed Ian Schrager hotels in London, Miami, and Los Angeles; and numerous other projects.