An Alexander Calder ‘Sanctuary’ Is Coming to Philadelphia to Showcase the Sculptor’s Work in Permanent Galleries and Gardens

The space will showcase works from the Calder Foundation.

Alexander Calder, Ghost (1964). Photo ©Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Alexander Calder, Ghost (1964). Photo ©Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Philadelphia will soon be home to a new space dedicated to one of the city’s beloved native sons, sculptor Alexander Calder.

Described as a “sanctuary”—and explicitly not a museum—the facility, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, will be an indoor and outdoor space with gardens and galleries to showcase works from the collection of the Calder Foundation.

“This initiative marks the first time that a building and grounds are being commissioned specifically to display Calder’s work,” said Alexander S.C. Rower, president of the Calder Foundation and grandson of the artist, in a statement. “The foundation is thrilled to collaborate on creating a meditative place that has the express purpose of enabling the public to experience and engage with my grandfather’s radical work in unprecedented ways.”

The new nonprofit institution, which has yet to be named, was founded by the foundation with several Philadelphia philanthropic organizations, including the Neubauer Family Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and H.F. Lenfest, with the support of the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Alexander Calder with <em>Giraffe</em> (1941). Photo courtesy of the Calder Foundation, New York.

Alexander Calder with Giraffe (1941). Photo courtesy of the Calder Foundation, New York.

Construction of the new venue on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, across from the Barnes Foundation and the Rodin Museum, is set to begin early next year, reports the New York Times. Plans for the building will be unveiled over the summer.

The Calder name is well known in these parts. Three sculptures by three generations of Calders—his father, Alexander Stirling Calder, and grandfather Alexander Milne Calder were also artists—are installed along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Alexander Calder's <i>Cheval Rouge (Red Horse)</i> on display in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

Alexander Calder’s Cheval Rouge (Red Horse) on display in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

The foundation was first in talks to build a permanent space for the artist’s work along the thoroughfare some 20 years ago. The forthcoming space will be located at the same location as that unrealized museum.

“The artistry of the Calder family is an important part of the fabric of our city,” said Rebecca W. Rimel, president and CEO of the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the project’s philanthropic partners, in a statement. “A home on the Parkway for some of Calder’s most consequential works will advance the city’s reputation as a world-class arts destination and enhance its appeal to national and international visitors.”


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