about the building

Designed by Brad Cloepfil and Allied Works Architecture, the Clyfford Still Museum is a dense, cantilevered 28,500-square-foot two-story building of richly worked concrete, deriving its presence from the earth—a single construction that is opened up by natural light and that itself becomes the source of light for the art within. The museum structure exists, simply and elegantly, to make room for the voice of a single artist. The Still Museum’s structure is made of highly textured and resurfaced concrete that modifies light on both the exterior and interior of the Museum. The landscaped forecourt serves both as a place of refuge and repose, transitioning from the urban neighborhood to the experience of viewing Still’s art within the Museum.

A cantilevered canopy of concrete leads visitors into the first-floor lobby, and glass walls allow visitors to see into the conservation studio and collection storage. An open corridor includes educational materials, and its two-story expanse provides views from below of the second-floor galleries and views from above into the library and study areas on the first floor. The Museum’s open design embodies the founding principle of the institution, the revealing to the public of this once-private and very personal collection.

A beautifully-crafted wooden staircase leads visitors to the second floor, which consists of a series of nine distinct galleries, having varying ceiling heights and proportions designed for the optimal display of the different elements of the Still collections. The nine galleries, totaling approximately 10,000 square feet, feature changing exhibits of work from throughout Clyfford Still’s career and enables visitors to progress chronologically through Still’s works. Two outdoor terraces and an education gallery offer visitors a moment of reflection and investigation during the gallery sequence, and allow them to re-orient themselves with the surrounding and distant landscape. One of the singular features of the Museum is its daylight system that includes diffusing skylights and motorized shades situated above a custom-formed, surprisingly delicate concrete tracery ceiling that almost disappears in the scattered light. The intensity of each gallery's light varies with changes in daylight, and electric lighting further enhances curatorial flexibility to modify the tonalities in each exhibition space.

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