Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas began as the private collection of Kay and Velma Kimbell as well as Dr. and Mrs. Coleman Carter, Kay’s sister. The four friends established The Kimbell Art Foundation in 1936 and collected mostly French and British portraits of the 18th and 19th centuries.
At the time of Mr. Kimbell’s death in 1964, the foundation had amassed 260 paintings and 86 other pieces of art. The Kimbell estate was willed to the foundation with the clear instruction to start a museum to bring art to Fort. Worth and the State of Texas. Velma donated her half of the estate to the foundation as well a week after Kay’s death.
The foundation named an executive director in 1966 and together with the nine members of the board of directors, they began to plan and blueprint what would become Kimbell Art Museum. The museum would be first class and only accept the most aesthetically pleasing and highest quality art to the collection. The Kimbell collection is now around 350 pieces representing a wide variety of time periods and historical importance.
The museum broke ground in 1966, being designed by Louis Kahn. After opening in fall of 1972, the building was mused as one of the finest Art Museums to ever be built and is considered the masterpiece of Kahn’s career. The museum went against popular trend and allowed the galleries to be flooded with natural light and garden elements. This became quite a unique and admired design because the museum was seen differently depending upon time of day and season.
The museum has three levels. The subfloor basement is not accessible by visitors. The lower lever has the entry way gallery, conservation labs, shipping and receiving areas and offices. The upper level is the main attraction and is comprised of the two main galleries, café, gift shop, library, two garden courtyards, and auditorium.
The Piano Pavilion
In November, 2013, another museum building was added to the property so that the Kimbell could expand in everything it could offer the community. The permanent collection at The Kimbell had large parts of it stored away whenever the museum would host an exhibit. The Piano Pavilion was built to allow the Kimbell to be the permanent collection’s home while seasonal exhibits would be set up in the Pavilion. This new building also had classrooms that are part of their full scale education program, a considerably large auditorium, a library and underground parking.
Comprised of only around 350 pieces, the Kimbell Collection is smaller than most art museums. The mission of The Kimbell was always to provide quality over quantity and this collection has been deemed one of the highest quality collections on display.
The Kimbell Foundation have been very selective about the works displayed in the museum. Taking into account the collections at other museums, The Kimbell does not have anything that is from beyond the mid-20th century out of respect to the modern art museum and no American art as that is the focus of another art museum in the area. The Kimbell has some of the world’s most ancient antique art pieces dating back to the third millennium B.C. in Egypt as well as from ancient Assyria, Greece and Rome.
European Art is a compilation of 17th and 18th century works from the Italian renaissance in the 1800’s and painting and sculpture from Britain, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, and Finland.
Asian Art has a wide assortment of different mediums of artistic works. There are bronze statues, ceramics and pottery, paintings, and more from Thailand, China, Cambodia, Tibet, Nepal, India, Japan and Korea. Many different cultures are featured in this collection.
Pre-Columbian Art shows pieces from Ancient South American and Mexican cultures such as the Mayans, Olmec, and Aztecs. Many of the pieces are stone, jade, bronze and ceramic. There are also a few pieces by the Conte and Wari ancient civilizations.
African and Oceanic Art focuses on the art of West and Central Africa. Most pieces are made out of wood while some are bronze and terracotta as well. The Oceanic Art is a few pieces from the Maori people.
All of the Collections are located in the Kimbell Art Museum and can also be viewed online. The Kimbell Foundation has taken great strides to provide the most accurate provenance possible for each art work in their collection. Some of these pieces can be traced all the way back to the first buyer and some are particularly interesting because of the change of ownership during World War II Nazi era.
Art exhibitions are generally held in the Piano Pavilion. The current exhibit is Monet: The Early Years, and will be running through the end of January 2017. The works on display are from the beginning of Monet’s career as an artist. From his debut in 1858 through the first twenty years.
Upcoming exhibitions include Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture, A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from The Phillips Collection.
The Kimbell Art Museum is dedicated to enriching the Fort Worth community through art and hosts several educational opportunities for adult and child learners.
Friday Evening Lectures is a special program on select Fridays where visitors can listen to speakers that are relevant to the Permanent Collection or exhibitions at The Piano Pavilion.
Art in Context is a Wednesdays lunch hour presentation that focuses on one or a few related pieces of the Kimbell Permanent Collection.
The Artist's Eye is a discussion based peer group that gets together on selected Saturdays. This group talks about different works and add their own special insights based on their own craft. Kimbell staff moderates the discussion but it is participant lead.
State of the Arts is a yearly, hour long presentation where art professionals and moderators discuss the state of the arts in Texas and culturally relevant topics.
Symposia is a day-long event where visitors can attend discussion panels on a variety of topics from leading world art experts. This event also serves to announce the grand opening of the special exhibitions every year.
Artful Readings is one of the only presentations that requires an admittance fee, however this adults- only event serves wine and light refreshments for patrons. The connections between select literary pieces and works of art in The Kimbell are discussed. Registration is required.
On select Sundays, Films are also shown on different artists or the history behind varied pieces of art. The Kimbell and The Piano Pavilion regularly produce live music in the auditoriums and performances such as stage performance, dance performance, public dances, and orchestras.
The Kimbell has opportunities for schools and the public to participate in a variety of hands on learning education through many different programs.
Studio Art Workshops are classes for learning an art form. There are adult only classes, family and children’s classes, as well as teen workshops and programs for educators only. Studio Art also includes a gallery tour that is relevant to the medium being learned about. Registration and fee are required but each workshop includes lunch from the onsite restaurant.
Studio Five 90 is a Friday evening open workshop where artists that enjoy any medium can come together to create and mingle. There are also gallery activities to spark discussion and creativity. This workshop is for teens and adults only and seating is limited.
Viewpoints is a community program for those who suffer with Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care centers chaperone these engagements.
There are several programs that are members only and include private tours, coffee hours, exhibition tours, and member's only nights. There are also a few different programs for teens to hang out at the museum after hours and drop in studios for small kids. The Kimbell has a program for everyone and frequently hosts school and university field trips.
The Buffet Restaurant is located at The Kimbell and serves lunch, desserts, and Friday evening dinner. There is also a café in The Pavilion that serves sandwiches, light snacks, desserts, and beverages. The cafe’s hours extend past the restaurant’s so grabbing a snack is always easy when visiting The Kimbell.
When visiting the Kimbell, there will be public guided tours scheduled throughout the day. These tours require no additional tickets or fees. Tours will be either the Permanent Collection, Special Exhibitions, or a tour specifically to educate on the architecture and history of the two buildings with tours of both.
Conservation and Research at The Kimbell
Louis Kahn designed a room in the museum to be specifically used for treating and examining paintings. The room is filled with bright natural light and visitors in the East Gallery can watch the happenings in the Conservation Room through a large window. Kimbell staff uses this space to restore and preserve important art works.
The Research department at The Kimbell frequently uses the conservation room as well, however, their primary focus is finding the provenance behind each art work at the museum, dating and authenticating various works.
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107, website, Phone: 817-332-8451