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The sculpture center, which was designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, centered on the idea of being a roofless museum. Piano’s guiding principles during this process were transparency and inclusion. He realized this idea by installing an aluminum sunscreen on the glass roof that lets in the northern light. Because of this idea the galleries are bathed in a soft light that, together with the soft-hued travertine-clad walls, creates an air of weightlessness and provides ideal lighting.
The glass facades at the end of the galleries have the effect of extending them to the garden designed by landscape architect Peter Walker. The 1.4-acre garden provides a beautiful, lush setting for the monumental sculptures of the collection. Works by Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Auguste Rodin and Barbara Hepworth blend seamlessly with native Texas trees like live oaks and cedar elms. Glass panels interrupt the monotony of the perimeter wall and let passerbys enjoy glimpses of the gardens from the street.
If you do go to the garden, make it a point to sit in the shade and feel the soothing effect of the crystalline sounds of its water feature. The sculpture garden is a green refuge where one can escape the hustle and bustle of Downtown Dallas. The garden also hosts its ‘til Midnight at the Nasher,’ free event with live concerts and film screenings, every third Friday of the month.
The permanent collection of more than 300 objects includes sculptures, drawings and paintings by Alberto Giacometti, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi and Raymond Duchamp-Villon, among many other prestigious artists. It ranges from the early modern works of the late 19th and mid-20th centuries to the contemporary works of the late 20th and 21st centuries. The Nasher also holds special exhibitions with loaned works from other institutions and private collections. However, the family’s collection doesn’t stop there; Raymond Nasher was the first developer to include art in shopping malls (NorthPark Center, Dallas, 1965). So, the works of art rotate between the two venues.
The Nasher’s five pavilions house three galleries -one of which is in the basement-, the Café, and the Store. I recently went into the Nasher Store and a solicitous member of staff offered water or coffee while I browsed. The Nasher Café by Wolfgang Puck has an ample terrace that is perfect when the weather is pleasant.
Download the app to enhance your experience of the Nasher. It features self-paced tours of the garden, special exhibitions, the museum’s story, and a guide to learn about modern and contemporary sculpture. The content of the app is in both English and Spanish. ■