Full metal jacket

Sharon McHugh
10 Feb 2010

Saitowitz completes Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art opened its doors in February to a new 60,000 sq ft museum designed by the San Francisco architect Stanley Saitowitz. It was a happy occasion for the 31-year old arts institution, which spent ten long years trying to get a museum built before settling on a location, an architect and a budget it could live with. While these struggles could have easily led to a less than spectacular result, what the museum got instead was a clever, modern building worthy of its contents. “A jewel box”, said Stanley Saitowitz.

The big idea behind Saitowitz’s design was to make the museum itself a frame for art. Wrapped with 3,000 panels of perforated aluminum embedded with programmable LED lights, the building’s façade shimmers in the light of the day and at night it becomes a canvas for a public art installation by digital light artist Leo Villareal (NY). Inside, a floating staircase leads to the second floor galleries. These galleries provide the museum with dramatically expanded exhibition space, allowing it to display more of its permanent collection and to attract larger, more prominent exhibitions.

Florida is fast becoming a major center for the arts. Along with the completion of the Tampa Museum of Art, plans were approved late last year for a new Miami Art Museum designed by Herzog & de Meuron.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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