Beginning Monday, the front entrance to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art will close for a four-month facelift. Although the museum will be open during construction, access will only be allowed through the Lancaster Avenue side door. The parking lot and plaza area will be off limits, as well.
Director Andrew Walker says the changes are necessary: The glass panels have to be removed because of UV considerations. When the museum was built in 1961, architect Philip Johnson wanted huge panes of glass on the facade, but glass technology 50 years ago did not accommodate his vision and smaller panes were used.
Over time they have proved to be problematic. The morning sun heats them quickly and they are prone to cracking, plus they do not shield UV rays like they need to in order to protect artwork in the front galleries.
Glass is available now that meets the museum’s requirements for protection and that is capable of handling the heat exchange. The larger panels originally specified by Philip Johnson are available, so the change is being made. As part of the remodel, the front door and the revolving door will be replaced with an entrance better able to handle crowds and visitors using strollers, wheelchairs and walkers.
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“This will increase our welcome to all visitors,” Walker says.
During construction, visitors will be asked to use a side entrance and the parking lots and garage to the west of Will Rogers Memorial Center.
“We tried hard to find free parking, but that was not successful, so we are having to make the best of it. The first 45 minutes are free, then I think the rate is $3,” says Walker.
There will be several exhibitions staged during the transition, all of them curated from the Carter’s permanent collection.
Once the front is rebuilt, visitors will notice the lobby is more of a public space, which was Johnson’s original intent, Walker says. “He thought the front should be a conversation between the building and downtown, a nice place to hang out and congregate.”
“The upside of all of this is we are able to do these changes and make the museum more friendly to the art and to the patrons,” says Lori Eklund, the museum’s deputy director.
Construction completion is estimated for June, and the Carter’s next big exhibition, “Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art From the Diker Collection,” is scheduled to open July 5.
“It will be a tremendous show, and we have no hesitation that the show will go on and be a great draw,” Walker says.
Gaile Robinson, 817-390-7113