Selldorf Architects recently completed a major reinstallation of the High Museum of Art’s permanent collection galleries. It comprised the first comprehensive revision of the galleries since the Museum’s expansion by Renzo Piano in 2005. Recognizing the Museum’s expanding and diverse audience, the firm sought to create a more coherent and unified experience throughout the High that could reflect its evolving and growing collection while creating dynamic and engaging experiences for visitors and improving accessibility throughout the High’s buildings.
The design included new wall configurations, circulation improvements, casework design and fabrication, objects placement and mounting, selection of wall colors, gallery wayfinding and signage, and improving the functionality of lighting systems to protect art objects and strengthen the Museum’s ongoing conservation effort.
The new layout of the galleries embraces the High’s conviction that art is not an isolated story, but rather a constellation of stories that intersect and are often in dialogue with one another. Organizational strategies combine interlinked chronological, stylistic and thematic constructs with frequent moments of spatial overlap or interstitial galleries between multiple genres that share common themes, historical instances, or formal approaches.
In the Stent Family Wing, the Richard Meier-designed architectural framework and column-grid inspired new and diverse pinwheel wall partitions that follow a new architectural logic around the existing structural columns to create new sight lines and offer glimpses of art in galleries ahead. In addition to giving a more expansive feel to the galleries, the new wall configurations give more breathing room for the exhibited art and reveal new circulation paths. Special attention was dedicated to differentiating the ramps and balcony as circulation spaces separate from the exhibition spaces.
Upgraded lighting strategies have been implemented to better protect light-sensitive artworks. This was achieved through a careful and deliberate reorganization of artworks based on their lighting requirements, introducing advanced shading and lighting mitigation systems on windows and skylights, and with subtle spatial interventions such as blocking direct light by shifting doorways and wall partitions.
(Photography credits: High Museum of Art)