Jun 02, 2000

Dia Art Foundation will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on June 2, 2000, at the site of a new museum for its permanent collection. Situated on the Hudson River in Beacon, New York, this facility is sixty miles north of Dia's Manhattan art center.

Plans to undertake the museum were made public one year ago when Governor George E. Pataki announced a package of local and state grants totaling up to $2.8 million after the 300,000 square-foot historic box-printing facility was donated to Dia by the International Paper Company. Since then Dia has completed environmental remediation and finalized schematic designs in preparation for construction to begin this summer. The $50 million project includes $17 million to renovate the former factory. The museum is expected to open to the public in fall 2003.

Dia aims to retain the industrial character of the existing building, featuring its vast spaces, high ceilings, and extensive ribbons of north-facing skylights. Limited architectural intervention is proposed, in order to use wherever possible the original floors, ceilings, walls, and the abundant indirect natural light as the principal source of illumination.

OpenOffice, an architectural and design firm based in New York City, will serve as Project Architect. Led by four young innovative principals, Alan Koch, Lyn Rice, Galia Solomonoff, and Linda Taalman, the firm is notable for its involvement with art-related projects, including galleries and public buildings, and its extensive work with contemporary artists. Currently it is designing a series of twelve residences, each conceived in collaboration with an artist. Dia's Beacon project is the first museum undertaken by the group.

Artist Robert Irwin worked with Dia's staff to formulate an initial schematic plan for the museum. He will also design an exterior work of art for the landscape and the interface between the interior and exterior spaces. An internationally recognized artist, Irwin's work has involved painting and sculpture, as well as architectural and landscape projects. Significantly, he devised an arts enrichment master plan for the Miami Airport in 1995 and in 1997 created the garden for the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Irwin's most recent site-specific installation, Excursus: Homage to the Square³, is currently on view at Dia's art museum at 548 West 22nd Street in Manhattan, through June 18, 2000.

Irwin's project will extend the boundaries of the museum experience beyond the building to its outdoor surroundings. A short walk from Beacon's Metro North rail station, the building and its 26-acre site is adjacent to 70 acres of riverfront parkland. Dia and the Scenic Hudson organization, who plan an environmentally sensitive development of 15 acres at Beacon Landing between the rail station and the museum, have jointly commissioned New York artist George Trakas to create plans for trails, vistas, and public water access along the entire waterfront.

Dia's museum at Beacon will become an international cultural destination, an optimal environment for visual engagement and contemplation in a setting of compelling historical interest and scenic beauty.

Michael Govan remarks, "For two decades Dia has been a pioneer in the restoration and conversion of large industrial buildings for public display of contemporary art. Working with artists, in particular Donald Judd in the 1970s, Dia created installations that situated artworks in the generous open space and simple raw beauty of vernacular warehouses and factories. These precedents have inspired numerous similar museum conversions in the United States and abroad."

In 1979 with Dia's support, Donald Judd renovated an army barracks in Marfa, Texas, and in 1986 architect Richard Gluckman reworked a former warehouse space to create Dia's exhibition galleries, which have become the anchor of the new Chelsea art district. By using converted spaces, Dia's museums emphasize the experience of viewing art and ambitious works by individual artists in sympathetic environments.

Assembled largely during the 1970s and early '80s by Dia's founders, Houston arts patron Philippa de Menil and German art dealer Heiner Friedrich, the collection today includes major holdings by artists including Joseph Beuys, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Robert Whitman. The collection on view in Beacon will be augmented with new acquisitions and long-term loans, as well as site-specific works.

Dia also maintains and operates several long-term site-specific art works including Walter De Maria's The New York Earth Room and The Broken Kilometer in New York City; The Lightning Field in New Mexico; the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, Long Island; as well as collaborative initiatives including The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and The Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston.

Dia Center for the Arts is a tax-exempt charitable organization. Established in 1974, the organization has become one of the largest in the United States dedicated to contemporary art and contemporary culture. In fulfilling this commitment, Dia sustains diverse programming in poetry, visual arts, education, and critical discourse and debate.

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For additional information or materials contact:
Press Department, Dia Art Foundation, press@diaart.org or 212 293 5518

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