The Beyeler Foundation in the Swiss town of Riehen, near Basel, is one of the most renowned modern and contemporary art museums in Switzerland.
Housed in a famous building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the museum houses the collection founded by gallerist and art dealer Ernst Beyeler (1921-2010), and covering a period ranging from the second half of the 19th century to present day.
Architecture and site
Along with the main building, the museum complex includes also a magnificent garden and Villa Berower, a late-Baroque building which accomodates the Foundation administration offices and a restaurant.
Aerial view of the Beyeler Foundation’s complex with the expansion by Renzo Piano, in the center of the photo, and Villa Berower in the lower-left corner; image Niggi Brauning
Completed in 1997, the expansion designed by Piano is a rectangular building marked by four 127 meter / 420 foot long longitudinal walls, made in reinforced concrete and clad in red porphyry stone, which support a semi-transparent flat roof.
The roof, which Piano defined “a machine for zenithal light”, includes an ingenious system, composed of adjustable glass slats, conceived to control natural illumination and filter direct sunlight.
Beyeler Foundation, ground floor plan and west elevation; image © RPBW
Photo Michel Denancé
Detail of the glass roof, photo Michel Denancé
Beyeler Foundation, transverse section (partial); image © RPBW
Photo Todd Eberle
The building envelope is mostly made of large glass windows in order to create a relationship between artworks and landscape; a dialogue further reinforced by the addition of a narrow winter garden which borders the exhibition galleries.
Photos Cristian Richters
In 2016, the Beyeler announced an international architectural competition aimed to further extend the museum.
Collection and activities
The collection of the Foundation includes masterpieces by Arp, Bacon, Braque, Cézanne, Chagall, Degas, Dubuffet, Ernst, Giacometti, Kandinsky, Kiefer, Klee, Léger, Lichtenstein, Matisse, Miró, Mondrian, Monet, Picasso, Pollock, Rodin, Stella, Tàpies, Van Gogh, Warhol, just to name a few. The permanent exhibition, often renovated in its layout, also features sections dedicated to African, Alaskan, and Oceanic art.
The Beyeler Foundation also organizes major temporary exhibitions; three per year, on average.
Beyeler Foundation, one of the exhibition rooms, photo Michel Denancé
An ensemble of sculptures by Alberto Giacometti, photo Michel Denancé
View of one exhibition room; on the right: painting “Le lyon ayant faim, se jette sur l’antilope”, 1898/1905, by Henri Rousseau; photo Todd Eberle
Cover image by Mark Niedermann
All images courtesy of Fondation Beyeler and Renzo Piano Building Workshop
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