Glenstone art museum, Potomac, MD
Glenstone is a museum of modern and contemporary art located in Potomac, Maryland, about 15 miles north-west of Washington D.C.
History and building
Opened in 2006, the museum was founded by American businessman Mitchell Rales “to assemble post-World War II artworks of the highest quality that trace the greatest historical shifts in the way we experience and understand the art of the 20th and 21st centuries.”
The 2018 expansion designed by Thomas Phifer; photo © Iwan Baan; courtesy of Glenstone Museum.
Situated in a lush 300-acre park designed by PWP Landscape Architecture, the museum is housed in a 30,000-square-foot modernist building designed by NY-based Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects.
Surrounded by monumental outdoor sculptures, the single-story building was conceived to create a dialog between art and architecture and to seamlessly integrate with the beautiful landscape around, consisting of streams, lawns, meadows, woods, a three-acre pond, and a smaller lily pond.
Glenstone, the 2006 building designed by Charles Gwathmey; photos by Scott Frances, courtesy of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects.
The 2018 expansion
In 2018, a museum expansion was completed after a design by architecture firm Thomas Phifer and Partners. Named The Pavilions, the 204,000-square-foot expansion consists of 11 rooms for artwork installations, ether changing or semi-permanent, connected by a glass-enclosed passage opening onto an 18,000-square-foot landscaped water court.
The expansion also contains a new public entrance, offices, support facilities, a learning center, and a cafe.
The exterior and interior walls of the pavilions are made of stacked cast concrete blocks with large glass windows framed in stainless steel, poured-in-place architectural concrete ceilings, and terrazzo floors. White maple was used for the interior floors, walls, and ceilings of selected spaces, including the cafe and the entrance hall.
The expansion is embedded in the landscape so that looks like it is “rising out of the earth” and masterfully combined with the water court, which is also home to seasonally changing plant life, in a beautifully-conceived interplay between natural and artificial, further strengthened by a broad use of natural lighting through vertical openings and laylights.
Glenstone Museum, The Pavilions expansion; photos © Iwan Baan, courtesy of Thomas Phifer and Partners.
The Passage in the Pavilions with the sculpture Big Phrygian by Martin Puryear, 2010-2014; photo: Ron Amstutz, courtesy of Glenstone Museum
Art collection and exhibitions
Thematic and retrospective exhibitions at Glenstone present works from the museum collection on a rotational basis.
The collection includes works – paintings, sculptures, photographs, and art installations – by many highly-recognized modern and contemporary artists including Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joseph Beuys, Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Maurizio Cattelan, Christo, Willem de Kooning, Marcel Duchamp, Lucio Fontana, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Robert Irwin, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Anselm Kiefer, Jannis Kounellis, Yayoi Kusama, Sol LeWitt, Sarah Lucas, Henri Matisse, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Sigmar Polke, Jackson Pollock, Martin Puryear, Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Doris Salcedo, Thomas Schütte, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Jean Tinguely, Cy Twombly, Jeff Wall, and Andy Warhol, among others.
The outdoor sculpture park contains works by Charles Ray, Tony Smith, Michael Heizer, Robert Gober, Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, Andy Goldsworthy, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jeff Koons, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller.
Admission to Glenstone is free; advance reservations (by phone or e-mail) are highly recommended.
Charles Ray installation (left to right): Table, 1990; Fall ’91, 1992; Baled Truck, 2014; The New Beetle, 2006; © Charles Ray, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo: Ron Amstutz, courtesy of Glenstone Museum
Lygia Pape, Livro do tempo (Book of Time), 1961-1963; photo © Iwan Baan.
The sculpture “Split-Rocker” by Jeff Koons, 2000; © Jeff Koons, courtesy of Glenstone Museum.
An aerial view of the Glenstone complex in Potomac, MD. On the left, the buildings designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. and by Thomas Phifer and Partners. Photo © PWP Landscape Architecture, courtesy of Glenstone Museum.
The Pavilions expansion, plan, general view, a view of the walls made of stacked cast concrete blocks, a detail of the materials used, and a view of a maple-clad relaxing room. Photos © Iwan Baan, courtesy of Thomas Phifer and Partners.
Glenstone Museum, a boardwalk in the park; photo © Iwan Baan.
Cover image: The Pavilion expansion at Glenstone; photo © Iwan Baan.
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