Dia Art Foundation announces the opening of Dia:Beacon, its new museum in Beacon, New York. Located on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, this former printing plant houses Dia’s world-renowned but rarely seen collection of contemporary art. It includes 240,000 square feet of gallery space, named The Riggio Galleries in recognition of the extraordinarily generous donations to the new museum made by Leonard Riggio and his wife, Louise. As chairman of Dia’s board of trustees since 1998, Mr. Riggio has led the organization through the process of creating the new museum.
The Dia:Beacon facility comprises three buildings and a train shed conjoined into a single structure measuring nearly 300,000 square feet. Constructed in 1929 for Nabisco (National Biscuit Company), the printing plant was donated to Dia in 1999 by International Paper, its most recent owner. Made of steel, concrete, and glass, it is a model of early-twentieth-century industrial architecture, the elegant, functional design of which provides an ideal environment for contemporary art. Dia has therefore maintained the character of the original structure, with its high ceilings, broad spans between supporting columns, and more than 34,000 square feet of skylights.
The artworks presented at Dia:Beacon range in date from the early 1960s to the present. In keeping with Dia Art Foundation’s long-standing focus on in-depth presentations of individual artists’ work, eDia is installing in the new museum works of art dating from the late 1950s through 2002. ach gallery is devoted to a single artist, and is specially designed to fulfill the particular needs of the work it contains. A number of these installations have been created in collaboration with the artists themselves.
Dia:Beacon offers a broad range and diversity of art, the richness of which is a powerful reminder of how remarkable and prescient were the contributions of this generation. The presentation includes works by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Hanne Darboven, Dan Flavin, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Imi Knoebel, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Andy Warhol, Lawrence Weiner, and Robert Whitman.
Paintings and works on paper are installed in the front section of the museum, where the cool, even light from the north-facing skylights provides excellent viewing conditions. The perimeter galleries here provide ample spaces for the exhibition of sculptural works that benefit from the direct light offered by large-scale factory windows.
The rear portion of the museum provides an architectural contrast to the front: Clerestory windows filter a changeable light, and the floor is made of concrete rather than wood, making this section of the museum especially conducive to the display of sculpture. Also in this area is one of the few structural changes that Dia made to the facility, raising the height of the roof in one gallery to create the best possible viewing conditions for a key work by Judd comprising fifteen plywood boxes.
Rehabilitation of the Site
The original printing facility was designed by Nabisco staff architect Louis N. Wirshing, Jr. Dia’s rehabilitation of the buildings and building site took approximately two years to complete, and was carried out in collaboration with artist Robert Irwin and architect OpenOffice. The facility has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
Irwin created a masterplan to integrate the new museum with its setting, including a design for the surrounding landscape and subtle alterations to the fabric of the structure. The entry to the grounds is marked by an orchard of flowering fruit trees—selected by the artist for their variety over all four seasons—that serves as a parking lot. A grass plaza, flanked by rows of sharply trimmed trees, leads visitors to the museum’s entrance. Among the artist’s interventions in the facility is the addition of an entry pavilion that creates a transition from the landscape to the galleries. Visitors move from the unfettered light and space outdoors into the compressed space of this transitional area, and from there to the light-filled galleries. Irwin’s plan for the interior of the building complex defines two major axes that run north–south and east–west, affording clear avenues for orientation within the large structure of the museum. An additional orienting feature in the interior is the natural brick that defines the perimeter of the museum: all other interior brick is painted white. In a signature gesture, Irwin replaced some of the facility’s translucent window panes with transparent ones, allowing momentary glimpses of the surrounding landscape.
A small two-story structure adjoining the gallery buildings provides space for a bookshop and café. The bookshop, with over a thousand titles on modern and contemporary art available, offers space to relax, browse, and read.
The museum opens to the public on May 18.
Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation was founded in 1974. A nonprofit institution, Dia plays a vital role among visual arts organizations nationally and internationally by initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects, and by serving as a locus for interdisciplinary art and criticism. In addition to its new museum in Beacon, Dia presents exhibitions and public programming at Dia:Chelsea (formerly Dia Center for the Arts), in Manhattan, New York, and maintains long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, in New York City, and on Long Island.
Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries is named in honor of Louise and Leonard Riggio for their extraordinary generosity, which has made possible the realization of this museum dedicated to Dia’s collection.
Significant capital funds were contributed by Lannan Foundation, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, and the Brown Foundation, as well as by Frances and John Bowes, Jay Chiat, Frances R. Dittmer, Angela and William L. Haines, and International Paper. Generous subsidies from public agencies were made available by the Office of Governor George E. Pataki through Empire State Development, the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency, the City of Beacon, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Private sector financing was provided by the Bank of America through the Banc of America Historic Tax Credit Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Capital support was also received from Constance R. Caplan, Carla Emil and Richard Silverstein, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Linda and Harry Macklowe, Lea H. Simonds, Louisa Stude Sarofim, and Barbara and Charles B. Wright.
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