The McNay Art Museum – Architecture

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The McNay Art Museum is off the beaten track in the wealthy suburb of Alamo Heights in the north east of the city of San Antonio. I took the bus there from the city centre – an experience in itself.

The Museum was opened in 1954 based around the collection of the wealthy collector of Modern Art, Marion McNay.

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The core of the museum is the Spanish Colonial Revival house that McNay had built. It’s been extended several times with modern style buildings creating an entrance lobby, exhibition space an auditorium and a library.

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The Museum is set in very pleasant grounds planted with trees, with well kept lawns and water features.

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The original house has three wings built around a central patio.

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The entrance hall and landing in the old house are particularly attractive

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This is the former library which has a very ornate wooden ceiling.

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The extensions have been built in modern styles, but to me this has been done sympathetically and they don’t intrude on the old house.

The most recent addition is the Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions which was opened in 2008. It was designed by the French architect Jean-Paul Viguier and it contains the main entrance lobby, the gift shop, a lecture hall, a sculpture hall and the space for temporary exhibitions.

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With it’s large glass facade and flat roof it rather reminded me of Ludwig Mies Van de Rohe’s Neue National Gallerie in Berlin.

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Another extension on the other side of the old house houses the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts  and the library. The latter is located in the basement and is accessed via an impressive spiral staircase underneath a glass walled atrium.

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