What Are America’s Top 10 Private Contemporary Art Museums?
From Miami, Dallas, and Greenwich, to El Segundo.
Who are the Henry Clay Fricks, J.P. Morgans, or Andrew Carnegies of our era? While many of the top contemporary art collectors in the US are gifting their works to major museums, another, smaller group of wealthy individuals are building their own museums. These small (but not that small) institutions, whose collections and buildings are idiosyncratic reflections of their owners’ interests and personalities, have proliferated over the last two decades. So fuel up your private jet: Here are artnet News’s 10 standout private museums around the US.
THE BRANT FOUNDATION ART STUDY CENTER
Location: Greenwich, Connecticut
Founder: Peter Brant
Year founded: 2009
The Brant Foundation has primarily an educational focus, but features long-term exhibitions from the foundation’s collection as well, including a recent survey show of Julian Schnabel—the artist’s first in this country since 2002—and an ongoing Dan Colen exhibition.
DE LA CRUZ COLLECTION
Location: Miami, Florida
Founders: Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz
Year founded: 2009
The de la Cruz Collection, which focuses on contemporary art as well as art education, has been open to the public since 2009—though its director, Ibett Yanez, points out that people had been able to privately ask to see the collection for the previous 25 years. The collection is housed in a distinctive building that is also an extension of Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz’s home. Built in the middle of the Miami Design District, the Collection has been a seminal attraction for art world migrants attending Art Basel in Miami Beach since the fair launched in 2002.
EL SEGUNDO MUSEUM OF ART
Location: El Segundo, California
Founders: Eva and Brian Sweeney
Year founded: 2013
An offshoot of the ARTLAB 21 Foundation, the El Segundo Museum of Art was founded by architect Eva Sweeney and real estate developer Brian Sweeney. Described as a “laboratory,” the museum shows the Sweeneys’ impressive and eclectic collection, which includes a range of modern and contemporary artists including Gustav Klimt, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, and Claude Monet.
FISHER LANDAU CENTER FOR ART
Location: Queens, New York
Founder: Emily Fisher Landau
Year founded: 1991 (open to the public since 2002)
The Fisher Landau Center for Art was originally built in 1991 as a private storage facility for much of Emily Fisher Landau’s collection, and in 2002 it opened to the public. The center boasts 1,500 works, most of which date from “1960 to the present.” The Fisher collection includes works by Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Matthew Barney, Jasper Johns, and Ed Ruscha, among many others. Landau is a trustee of the Whitney Museum, to which she has donated works by Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Carl Andre, and Kiki Smith, to name just a few.
Location: Potomac, Maryland
Founders: Mitchell and Emily Rales
Year founded: 2006
Though Glenstone has held only four exhibitions at its 200 acre Potomac, Maryland, estate since 2006, the depth and strength of its collection can be seen in larger public museums on the east coast and in Europe this year alone. One of the Rales’s holdings featured prominently in the New York Jewish Museum’s recent Mel Bochner retrospective (see “Mel Bochner’s ‘Strong Language’ at The Jewish Museum“), and two others are on view in MoMA’s “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness” exhibition (see “Christopher Williams at MoMA: The Aesthetics of Smartypants“).
Location: Dallas, Texas
Founders: George Michael and Kenny Goss
Year founded: 2007
Founded by singer George Michael and his partner Kenny Goss, the foundation is based in Dallas, Texas, and showcases their personal collection of British contemporary art, including works like Damien Hirst’s Saint Sebastian Exquisite Pain. The foundation, whose first show was curated by Hirst, also provides exhibitions for emerging British artists who may not have gained much exposure in the US.
HALL ART FOUNDATION
Location: Reading, Vermont
Founders: Andrew and Christine Hall
Year founded: 2007
The Hall Art Foundation was created by Andrew J. Hall, a former Citigroup trader who also dabbles in organic farming, and his wife, Christine. They have also partnered with Mass MoCA for a long-term installation devoted to the works of Anselm Kiefer from the Halls’ collection. In addition to Kiefer, the Halls’ collection of over 5,000 pieces of postwar and contemporary art includes works by Joseph Beuys, Eric Fischl, Andy Warhol, and Malcolm Morley, among others.
LINDA PACE FOUNDATION
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Founder: Linda Pace
Year founded: 2003
The Linda Pace Foundation was founded by its namesake in 2003. Linda Pace, an artist and collector, died in 2007. Her foundation manages and exhibits a collection of about 500 works, which is mostly focused on contemporary art from US artists, and includes works by Marilyn Minter, Wangechi Mutu, Dario Robleto, Isa Genzken, and others.
Location: San Francisco, California
Founder: Andy Pilara
Year founded: 2010
Billing itself as a “place to view and think about photography,” Pier 24 is a 28,000-square-foot warehouse space that serves as a home for the Pilara Foundation Collection. Its free admission (with appointment) offers the public a chance to see what is probably the largest dedicated space for photography on the West Coast, if not the entire country. In addition to exhibiting works from the Foundation’s collection—which includes virtually every major figure in contemporary photography, from Richard Avedon and Lee Friedlander to Catherine Opie and Jeff Wall—Pier 24 also mounts special exhibitions.
RUBELL FAMILY COLLECTION
Location: Miami, Florida
Founders: Donald and Mera Rubell
Year founded: 1964 in New York (in Miami since 1993)
Housed in a 45,000-square-foot former DEA facility, the Rubells’ museum counts artworks by Andy Warhol, Kara Walker, Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Koons in its collection. While it is considered to be one of the founding “Miami Model” private collecting institutions that helped spawn Art Basel in Miami Beach, several of the RFC’s recent exhibitions have traveled to public institutions including the Brooklyn Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art.
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