Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO – Shigeru Ban

637 East Hyman Avenue, Aspen
Colorado, United States
Phone: +1 970.925.8050
closed on: Mondays
Museum Type: Art
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The new Aspen Art Museum, designed by Shigeru Ban with Jim Hodges’ installation With Liberty and Justice For All (A Work in Progress). Photo © Peter Feinzig 

The Aspen Art Museum is a non-collecting museum in Aspen, Colorado, committed to promote international contemporary art.

The museum and its site
The museum, founded in 1979, moved in 2014 to a new iconic 33,000-square-foot building, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, surrounded by the magnificent landscape of the Rocky Mountains.

What to do at the Aspen Art Museum
The Aspen Art Museum organizes major temporary exhibitions, featuring works by the most innovative contemporary artists, together with workshops and educational programs for kids and adults, creative workshops, happenings, talks, and film screenings.

Visitor facilities
The museum building, fully accessible to people with disabilities, includes exhibition galleries, educational spaces, a rooftop sculpture garden, a panoramic terrace, a cafeteria, and a shop.

The architecture of Shigeru Ban’s new Aspen Art Museum

In the Summer of 2014, the Aspen Art Museum, one of the most interesting art institutions in the United States, opened its new home in Aspen, Colorado.

The Aspen Art Museum was founded in 1979 as a non-collecting institution aimed to present and promote the newest and most advanced trends of international contemporary art.
Since the old spaces of the institution had become insufficient due to the increasing success, in 2007 the AAM board decided to create a new home for the museum and commissioned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban to accomplish the task of designing the building.

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Photo © Michael Moran/OTTO 

Aspen Art Museum Shigeru Ban axonometric drawing

Axonometric view

Shigeru Ban, one of the best-regarded contemporary architects, and a recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2014, is renowned for his research on lightweight building materials like paper and wood and for his exemplary commitment to humanitarian architecture and disaster relief design.

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The exhibition “Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture“ at the Aspen Art Museum, 2014. photo © Michael Moran/OTTO 

For the new home of the Aspen Art Museum, Ban designed a building apparently very simple in its shape but extremely profound conceptually.
The architecture of the museum is based on a carefully planned alternation of transparent and semi-transparent layers, beginning from the building’s woven envelope, which creates a diverse and fascinating sequence of views: into the interior of the museum from the outside, and toward the spectacular surrounding mountain environment from the inside.

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Photos © Michael Moran/OTTO

The box-shaped volume of the AAM, which contains the museum lobby, exhibition galleries, an education space, a shop, a cafe, and an on-site artist apartment, together with service, storage, and preparation spaces, is based on the combination of five main architectural elements.

The Grand Staircase and the “Moving Room” elevator, along with physically connecting the building levels, are also spaces where visitors get a unique visual experience of the building and its surroundings through several vertical “layers” with different degrees of transparency.

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photos © Michael Moran/OTTO 

The Wooden Roof Structure, with its articulated morphology, creates a sort of “interlayer” between the upper level and the exterior through which natural light softly enters the building from above.

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Photos © Michael Moran/OTTO

The Wooden Screen is possibly the signature element of the building, it is a woven envelope, filtering the sunlight coming from the outside, made of Prodema, a composite material composed of paper and resin and coated with natural wood veneer. The interaction between the screen and the natural light creates impressive shade patterns inside the building’s public spaces.



photos © Billy Farrell/

The “Walkable” Skylights, the roof deck, and the rooftop sculpture garden further strengthen the visual relationship between the museum and its surroundings, the terrace is also equipped with skylights that provide natural lighting to the exhibition gallery below.


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top; photo © Derek Skalko
Middle, bottom, and cover: photos © Michael Moran/OTTO
All images courtesy of Aspen Art Museum

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