Thursday, April 1, 2010

Art Gallery

Museum London is now skinned with simple grey plates. Note chimney-like vent.

Officially it's Museum London but locally it's simply The Art Gallery. Located at The Forks of the Thames in downtown London, Ontario, the building itself is rather interesting, both to look at and to write about. First, the story which ran as an investigative news story when the local paper claimed the design is a rip-off of Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art museum in Fort Worth, Texas. I don't think so. The Kahn building is an inspiration for the London's building. And, as any student of art can tell you, inspiration of this nature has a long and very proud history in the world of art. This is a non-issue.

Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art museum is in Fort Worth, Texas.
Designed by Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama and built in 1980, Museum London was originally a deep rich blue, a colour almost demanded because of the gallery's location at the forks of the Thames. The original blue plates had a dynamic fan design filling each arch.

Unfortunately the metal plates rusted badly and a few years ago the blue skin disappeared to be replaced by the present grey panels. The dynamic fan shapes were replaced with rectangles. Some say this was done to save money. Supposedly, the fancy shapes came with a fancy price.

Inside, the lower level shallow pool has been removed. Rumour has it that a lady tumbled into the pool during the opening night celebration. Deemed a safety hazard, the pool was removed. Others say the pool was causing humidity problems in the gallery but I recall a similar pool in a large hall just past the entrance to the Detroit Institute of Art. It apparently caused no grief.

Note the original blue colour and fan shapes under arches.
And the unpainted, grey concrete walls are no longer unpainted and grey. Many have been sloppily painted white. Personally, I liked the unpainted walls but then I liked the original blue colour and the fan shapes at the top of the arches.

The vast majority of readers who have responded to this post, favoured the original Moriyama design over either the Fort Worth building or the modified London gallery.

Moriyama had it right.


1 comment:

Hilda said...

Very interesting story about this building. It may be a rip-off, but I like it better than the one in Texas, maybe because of the shiny metal trim. But you're right, the blue color and fan shapes sound much more interesting.