In April the Kunstmuseum Basel, which houses one of the largest and oldest public art collections in Europe, will become richer in space with the opening of a new extension. The main building (opened 1936) and the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart (opened 1980), which is sited in close vicinity on the banks of the Rhine, are to be complemented by the new building. Designed by renowned Basel-based architects Christ & Gantenbein, the extension is connected by an underground passageway to the main building across the street.
Through many of its elements, the new building cites the rich architectural language of the main building. This is manifested in the monumental stairway with a central circular skylight, the sgraffito in the open areas of the foyer and the staircases. This reference to the historical buildings also reflected in the colour qualities of the brick facade as well as the highly refined details in the materials used.
Despite reverence to the main building, the new extension is also a standalone building, which has its own contemporary architectural language. Its polygonal ground plan comprises a series of well-proportioned rectangular exhibition halls. Particularly impressive are the expansive hallways (around five metres in height) that make up the basement level of the building. The new building blends harmoniously into the heterogeneous structure of the of St. Alban quarter and radiates, quite literally, through the LED frieze woven into the facade, out onto the city.
Inaugural exhibition Sculpture on the Move 1946-2016
With 2.740 square metres of additional space primarily dedicated to the museum’s special exhibitions programme, the new building will mark its opening with the survey Sculpture on the Move 1946-2016, curated by Bernhard Mendes Bürgi.
The exhibition opens with late works by Constantin Brancusi and Alberto Giacometti, two defining artists of the twentieth century, in the skylit galleries that Christ & Gantenbein architects have created on the second floor of the new building.