THE VISION OF THE FOUNDERS
The Kimbell Art Foundation, which owns and operates the Museum, was established in 1936 by Kay and Velma Kimbell, together with Kay’s sister and her husband, Dr. and Mrs. Coleman Carter. Early on, the Foundation collected mostly British and French portraits of the 18th and 19th centuries. By the time Mr. Kimbell died in April 1964, the collection had grown to 260 paintings and 86 other works of art, including such singular paintings as Hals’s Rommel-Pot Player, Gainsborough’s Portrait of a Woman, Vigée Le Brun’s Self-Portrait, and Leighton’s Portrait of May Sartoris. Motivated by his wish “to encourage art in Fort Worth and Texas,” Mr. Kimbell left his estate to the Foundation, charging it with the creation of a museum. Mr. Kimbell had made clear his desire that the future museum be “of the first class,” and to further that aim, within a week of his death, his widow, Velma, contributed her share of the community property to the Foundation.
With the appointment in 1965 of Richard F. Brown, then director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as the Museum’s first director, the Foundation began planning for the future museum and development of the collection, both of which would fulfill the aspirations of Mr. Kimbell. To that end, under the leadership of its President, Mr. A. L. Scott, and in consultation with Ric Brown, the nine-member Board of Directors of the Foundation—consisting of Mrs. Kimbell; Dr. Carter; his daughter and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Ben J. Fortson; Mr. C. Binkley Smith; Mr. P. A. Norris, Jr.; Mr. J. C. Pace, Jr.; and attorney Mr. Benjamin L. Bird—adopted a policy statement for the future museum in June 1966, outlining its purpose, scope, and program, among other things. That statement remains to this day the operative guide for the Museum. In accordance with that policy, the Foundation acquires and retains works of so-called “definitive excellence”—works that may be said to define an artist or type regardless of medium, period, or school of origin. The aim of the Kimbell is not historical completeness but the acquisition of individual objects of “the highest possible aesthetic quality” as determined by condition, rarity, importance, suitability, and communicative powers. The rationale is that a single work of outstanding merit and significance is more effective as an educational tool than a larger number of representative examples.
Two aspects of the 1966 policy in particular would have the greatest impact on changing the Kimbell collection: an expansion of vision to encompass world history and a new focus on building through acquisition and refinement a small collection of key objects of surpassing quality. The Kimbell collection today consists of about 350 works that not only epitomize their periods and movements but also touch individual high points of aesthetic beauty and historical importance.
A COLLECTION OF MASTERPIECES
Acquisitions of the first decade (1965–75) included several works that today rank among the treasures of the collection: Monet’s Point de la Hève at Low Tide; Bellini’s Christ Blessing; an eighth-century Maya stone panel depicting the Presentation of Captives; and Picasso’s classic Cubist painting of 1911, Man with a Pipe. A pre-Angkor-period bronze Bodhisattva Maitreya from Prakonchai, Thailand, was the first acquisition made during Brown’s tenure and the first work of Asian art to enter the collection.
In 1975, Mrs. Ben J. Fortson, beloved niece of Kay Kimbell, was appointed President of the Foundation’s Board of Directors—a leadership role many assumed she would one day have when she was elected to the Foundation Board at the age of 21 in 1956. Mrs. Fortson serves in that position to this day. About this time, all of the various businesses of the Kimbell estate were finally converted to income-producing assets by the executors, all of which were also Foundation Directors, providing critical funding to the Foundation for acquisitions. That funding made it possible to add on a regular basis such important works as Duccio’s Raising of Lazarus, El Greco’s Portrait of Dr. Francisco de Pisa, Rubens’s Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham, and Cézanne’s Man in a Blue Smock. The Foundation acquired the latter at auction in 1980, after Ric Brown’s unexpected death in the previous year, and designated the painting as a memorial to Brown in recognition of his outstanding service to the Foundation and the community.
Edmund P. (Ted) Pillsbury succeeded Brown as the Museum’s director. During Pillsbury’s tenure (1980–98), nearly 150 works were added to the collection. Among them were La Tour’s Cheat with the Ace of Clubs, which was being researched as a potential acquisition at the time of Ric Brown’s death; its influential Italian antecedent, Caravaggio’s long-lost Cardsharps; an expressive and realistic early work by Carracci, The Butcher’s Shop; a late subject picture by David, The Anger of Achilles; a rare full-length portrait by Velázquez, Don Pedro de Barberana; Picasso’s bold and powerful Nude Combing Her Hair; a major Cézanne landscape, Maison Maria with a View of Château Noir; Caillebotte’s Impressionist urban landscape On the Pont de l’Europe; Friedrich’s Mountain Peak with Drifting Clouds, the first of his works to enter a public collection outside Europe; a rare genre scene by the Spanish master Murillo, Four Figures on a Step; a New Kingdom Egyptian masterpiece, Kneeling Statue of Senenmut; a jewel by Fra Angelico, Saint James Freeing Hermogenes; the meticulously painted Interior of the Buurkerk, Utrecht by the Netherlandish painter Saenredam; Matisse’s late-period L’Asie; Mondrian’s modernist masterpiece Abstraction; and Monet’s expressive Weeping Willow. During this time, the Kimbell’s Asian, African, and Precolumbian collections were also greatly enhanced by masterworks such as a Japanese Shaka Buddha by the master sculptor Kaikei; an incised Maya Conch Shell Trumpet; the sensuous Chinese Tang-period Bodhisattva Torso; a striking life-size Pre-Angkor stone image of the Hindu god Harihara from Cambodia; and an exquisite terracotta Head, Possibly a King from the Ife culture of Nigeria.
Under the directorship of Timothy Potts, from 1998 to 2007, the diversity of the collection was expanded with works such as an ancient Greek Red-Figure Cup Showing the Death of Pentheus by the Douris painter; Raeburn’s Allen Brothers, a nod to the genesis of the Foundation’s collection of British portraiture; an inlaid figurine of a Standing Ruler from the Wari culture of Peru, the first South American work to enter the collection; Bernini’s striking Modello for the Fountain of the Moor; a masterwork by Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Judgment of Paris; and a rare eighth-century Japanese dry lacquer Gigaku Mask.
During the tenure of Eric M. Lee, director since 2009, the Kimbell has further enriched the collection with the acquisition of Michelangelo’s Torment of Saint Anthony, the artist’s first known painting, believed to have been executed when he was 12 or 13 years old; Guercino’s tender and majestic Christ and the Woman of Samaria; Poussin’s stately Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter), from the artist’s first series of the Seven Sacraments, which is among the most celebrated groups of paintings in the history of art; two rare Maya Palenque-style ceramic censer stands, Censer Stand with the Head of the Jaguar God of the Underworld and Censer Stand with the Head of a Supernatural Being with a Kan Cross; and Ruisdael’s Edge of a Forest with a Grainfield, an exceptional work by one of the leading painters of the Dutch landscape tradition in the 17th century.
Equally important in the development of the Kimbell as a major national museum has been its initiation of highly acclaimed international loan exhibitions accompanied by Kimbell-produced publications and nationally attended symposia, including retrospectives devoted to Poussin (the first exhibition of the artist held in America), Ribera, Tiepolo, Jacopo Bassano, Ludovico Carracci, Matisse, and Vigée Le Brun, as well as timely surveys of 17th-century Spanish still-life painting, French mythological painting of the 18th century, and Japanese Buddhist sculpture. Other major exhibitions originated or co-organized by the Kimbell include The Blood of Kings: A New Interpretation of Maya Art (1986), Monet and the Mediterranean (1997), Stubbs and the Horse (2004), Gauguin and Impressionism (2005), Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art (2007), Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome (2011), and Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes (2013). The Museum has also played host to major traveling exhibitions, beginning in 1973 with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings from the U.S.S.R., which marked the first time these works had traveled outside the Soviet Union, and including The Great Bronze Age of China (1980), Cézanne to Matisse: Great French Paintings from the Barnes Collection (1994), The Path to Enlightenment: Masterpieces of Asian Sculpture from the Musée Guimet (1996), Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh (2006), The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago (2008), Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea (2010), The Age of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark (2012), Bernini: Sculpting in Clay (2013), The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters from the Art Institute of Chicago (2013), and Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection (2014).
A WORLD-RENOWNED BUILDING
In October 1966, Louis I. Kahn (born 1901) received the commission to design the Kimbell Art Museum. From the moment it opened in October 1972, it was deemed not only the apotheosis of Kahn’s ever-evolving ideas about the architectural union of light and structure, but also one of the finest art museums ever built. It was the last work the architect would see to completion before his death in March 1974.
Although Mrs. Kimbell had expressed a wish that the Museum be “of classical design,” the Kimbell Art Foundation imposed no stylistic conditions on Kahn. The Foundation made it clear, however, that it wanted architecture that would succeed not only on aesthetic grounds, but also from a functional standpoint. It was a conviction shared by Kahn, who distinguished himself by a deep sense of the practical as well as the spiritual.
The Museum’s director, Ric Brown, advised that the Kimbell should have an inward orientation and imaginative garden treatments. But what was most important to him was that the art be experienced with natural light and outdoor views—an opinion that went against the prevailing trend of the day, which was to illumine and control lighting conditions in museums through artificial means. Such a museum would offer a different experience on every visit, as the light would vary according to the time of day, the season, and the weather. These programmatic parameters were essential to Kahn’s creative process, as he famously needed to understand the “nature of a building” before he could determine what it “wanted to be.”
From his earliest sketches and models, Kahn conceived the Museum as a series of long, narrow galleries, each with its sources of light—both natural and artificial—and conditioned air. Kahn’s plan is classical: an axis passing west to east through the front to rear entries is crossed by a longer north-south axis, along which the galleries are positioned in harmony with the site. The north and south sides of the Museum’s three-section pavilion are composed of six parallel, 100-by-20-foot, lead-roofed, post-stressed concrete vaults, while the center section is made of four. Due to its structural strength, each vault only requires the support of four square columns. The building is composed of three levels: the upper floor, housing most of the galleries and the auditorium, library, bookstore, café, and two garden courtyards; the lower floor, encompassing the lower-level entry gallery, conservation labs, offices, and shipping and receiving areas; and a sub-floor basement.
Kahn envisioned a museum with “the luminosity of silver,” illuminated by “natural light, the only acceptable light for a work of art, [with] all the moods of an individual day.” He achieved this through a design with “narrow slits to the sky” to admit daylight and pierced metal reflectors hanging beneath them to diffuse and spread the light from its hidden source onto the underside of the cycloid-shaped vaults and down the walls. Courtyards, lunettes, and light slots introduce more light, varying quality and intensity. Architectural space and light are further unified by the choice of materials: deftly handled structural concrete is juxtaposed with Italian travertine, fine-grained white oak, dull-finished metal, and clear glass. Kahn characterized the Museum building as inspired by “Roman greatness.” The classical appearance of its porticos, arches, and vaults is often cited.
The resulting Museum building would be acclaimed a modern classic from the moment of its opening. Brown proudly declared, in a dictum worthy of Kahn, that the Kimbell was “what every museum has been looking for ever since museums came into existence.” Brown was referring especially to the open, flexible plan, describing it as “a floor uninterrupted by piers, columns, or windows and perfect lighting, giving total freedom and flexibility to use the space and install the art exactly the way you want.” Indeed, the natural glow of its galleries, so compelling and transcendent, inspired architects and museum professionals, in subsequent decades, to bring natural light into museum structures. The Foundation Board of Directors also seemed to understand the building’s significance and potential for future inspiration. On behalf of the full Board, Mr. A. L. Scott, its President, declared: “This design will still be new and fresh 50 years from now, we think . . . What we have is magnificent.”
From the beginning, the founders of the Kimbell Art Museum envisioned a conservation program to “preserve for future generations what has been entrusted to its care.” The pre-architectural plan called for a conservation studio with an “open studio work area” with the caveat: “must face north, with entire wall glazed; it is impossible to get enough light in this room!” In fulfilling this mandate, the Kimbell became the first museum in Texas to create a purpose-built, professional paintings conservation studio. With a double-height vault, it is an ideal environment in which to examine, clean, and restore works of art and has served as a model for many museum conservation laboratories. Adjacent to photography, storage, and the registrar’s office and within easy access of the curators’ and director’s offices, the conservation studio is thoroughly embedded within the total Museum program, thanks to the vision of the Kimbell’s first director, Ric Brown.
In 1971, Brown hired Perry Huston as the Kimbell’s first paintings conservator. Huston advised on the final layout of the studio and cared for the Kimbell collection over the next 12 years. Following the arrival of the Museum’s second director, Edmund P. (Ted) Pillsbury, in 1980, conservation played a critical role in the Kimbell’s acquisition program, as the rate of acquisitions of European paintings quickly accelerated. When the Kimbell acquired La Tour’s Cheat with the Ace of Clubs in 1981, Pillsbury sent the painting to John Brealey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for conservation. It became the first of many Kimbell acquisitions restored there in the early 1980s. In 1984, a protégé of Brealey’s, Claire Barry, was appointed the Kimbell’s first full-time paintings conservator and today is director of conservation.
Through the generosity of the Burnett (then Tandy) Foundation, substantial funds were provided to furnish the Kimbell with state-of-the-art equipment that rivaled that of the Met. The Museum continues to update equipment to keep current with technological advances.
Over the years, the examination and cleaning of paintings has frequently provided crucial evidence for resolving issues of dating, iconography, and authenticity and has revealed important aspects of artists’ techniques. For example, the Kimbell acquired Caravaggio’s Cardsharps, a lost original that had reappeared on the market after some 80 years, in 1987. At first, skeptics held that it was merely a copy, but examination revealed the painter’s characteristic lead-white ground, small incisions to define contours, and a pattern of pentimenti consistent with the artist’s method of painting from the live model, which, with the discovery of Cardinal del Monte’s wax seal on the reverse after the removal of the lining canvas, provided conclusive proof that the painting was Caravaggio’s influential early masterpiece.
In 2009, the Kimbell acquired Michelangelo’s Torment of Saint Anthony, the artist’s first known painting. Cleaning and technical examination of the panel, including infrared reflectography of the underdrawing, revealed critical pentimenti that supported the painting’s claim as Michelangelo’s original work. Technical examination also played an integral role in the Kimbell’s subsequent acquisition of Guercino’s Christ and the Woman of Samaria. Pentimenti in the position of Christ’s outstretched hand, discovered through X-radiography, revealed the artist’s distinguishing preoccupation with this significant gesture and confirmed the painting’s status as Guercino’s prime version of an important composition. In preparation for this exhibition, the conservation department cleaned Poussin’s Sacrament of Ordination and oversaw the restoration of its frame, which Sir Joshua Reynolds had selected for the painting after its arrival in England in the late 18th century.
Along with their work with new acquisitions, the Kimbell conservators continue to research and care for the Museum’s permanent collection. In 1995, the conservators initiated the first autoradiographic investigation of paintings by La Tour, uncovering evidence of the artist’s use of cartoons that challenged earlier assumptions about his working methods. Respect for an artist’s original intent remains the principle guiding conservation practices. Research into artists’ materials and techniques informs treatments, with the aim of keeping intervention to a minimum.
Top priority is given to supporting an artist’s preferences regarding varnishing and framing. For example, varnishes were removed from the surfaces of some of the Kimbell’s Impressionist paintings by Pissarro, Monet, and Cézanne, since it is now understood that these artists, like the Cubist painters Picasso and Braque, preferred unvarnished, matte surfaces. In 2011, the conservators integrated their findings about Cubist painting materials and techniques in the gallery installation for the exhibition Picasso and Braque: The Cubist Experiment, 1910–1912.
As the Kimbell plans for the next 40 years with a new building by Renzo Piano, maintaining a controlled environment in the galleries is a primary concern. Light levels that allow for optimal viewing and preservation of the works of art are of particular importance, just as they were when plans for the Museum’s paintings conservation department were first conceived.
In an article published on October 1, 1972, just before the Kimbell’s opening, Max W. Sullivan—charged with Museum programming—described a visitor-focused experience in which the Museum would provide warm hospitality to individuals and satisfy their curiosity. He also emphasized an object-based approach that would inform all aspects of the educational programs, from lectures and workshops to docent-guided tours, teacher trainings, and films. Over the four decades that have followed, these objectives have remained central to the Kimbell’s educational offerings. They have guided the refinement of existing programs and new experiences designed to meet the diverse needs and interests of the Museum’s audiences—serving children of all ages, adults, university students, educators at all levels, and community groups with special needs.
A wide range of resources and programs enhances the experience of the Kimbell’s exceptional collections, special exhibitions, and acclaimed building. Year-round lectures, symposia, and gallery talks feature leading international experts, local scholars, and professional artists, and documentary films place masterpieces in their art historical context. Written materials on gallery walls and in Museum publications draw from the latest research to present insights of interest to both specialists and to the wider public. Mobile technologies, such as audio tours and tablets, provide additional content-rich experiences for all visitors.
Art is the starting point for every experience and program offered at the Kimbell, whether it is a solitary visitor absorbed in contemplation or a discussion group sharing ideas about a work’s possible meaning. Fifth grade students join in facilitated conversations that promote observation, description, and analysis—all focused on what they see in the artwork. High school students preparing their first public gallery talks learn not only how to look at art, but also how to encourage others to investigate deeply. Family gallery guides for drop-in visitors offer questions and child-friendly facts to encourage detailed observation and discussion about individual artworks.
Recognizing the art museum as a special laboratory for discovery, imagination, and creativity, Kimbell educators continue to build upon a long-standing tradition of programs that offer unique hands-on learning experiences. Workshop participants may learn watercolor painting techniques after discussing Cézanne’s affinity for the medium or produce self-portraits inspired by the collection. Free festivals and spring break drop-in activities bring families together to create original artworks and lasting memories. Summer programs for children and preteens offer extended art-making experiences around a particular theme or technique.
The warmth and intimacy of Kahn’s building sets the tone for discussion programs and workshops that invite sociability as part of the enrichment experience: new friends may enjoy experimenting with art-making techniques during a Friday Workshop; the Kimbell’s book club is a popular program where participants meet to discuss readings and visual arts connections; and thematic gallery tours offer opportunities for lively, informative exchanges led by knowledgeable docents.
Over the years, the education department has learned with and from the communities that it serves. A thriving docent program provides in-depth training for volunteers who, in turn, generously share their time, talent, and knowledge with thousands of visitors annually. Partnerships with local arts organizations enhance programming with music and dance performances, family-oriented presentations, and film series collaborations. Striving to meet the special needs of all audiences, the Kimbell has offered workshops for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, as well as newer programs engaging individuals with Alzheimer’s and their care partners.
Looking ahead to the next chapter in the Kimbell’s history, the education department builds upon a legacy that cherishes the individual experience, shares in the excitement of a new idea, and seeks creative ways to foster a rich learning environment for all of our visitors. The new education facilities in the Renzo Piano building with studios and seminar rooms introduce the next wave of program diversification and expansion, while the department remains committed to the original principles that successfully guided it through the Museum’s first 40 years.
The Kimbell Art Museum Library was established in 1967, with offices located in downtown Fort Worth. When the Museum opened in 1972, the Library, which then had a collection of around 10,000 volumes, moved into the Kahn Building. In January 2014, the Library moved to the Renzo Piano Pavilion, where it continues its long tradition of service.
The Kimbell Library’s collection is noncirculating and primarily serves the Museum’s staff and docents, but it is also available to art historians, especially faculty and graduate students from surrounding universities, by appointment only. Over the past 40 years, the Library has played an important role in providing to curators and educators research materials related to the Museum’s acquisitions, exhibitions, and programs. As a member of the Cultural District Library Consortium, the Library’s services include the acquisition of significant library materials, data management, shared resources, online research databases, and orientation for interns and docents.
The Library’s strongest area of collecting, corresponding to the Museum’s collection policy, is European art from the Renaissance to the mid-20th century, followed by Asian art from antiquity to the 19th century, Mediterranean antiquities, Western medieval art, Precolumbian art, and African art. The Library acquires not only domestic publications, but also foreign sets of artist monographs, catalogues raisonnés, exhibition catalogues, general art history books, and conservation materials. The collection now consists of 45,000 books, 5,200 bound periodicals, and 14,000 auction catalogues, as well as a collection of nearly 23,000 microfiche, including the Witt Library Collection, the Deloynes Collection, and out-of-print titles.
THE BUFFET AT THE KIMBELL
In 1981, the Kimbell Art Museum opened a full-service buffet restaurant and hired Shelby Schafer, who had been running a catering enterprise, as manager. Schafer wanted to keep the menu and service simple but to offer a selection of items that would appeal to the broad tastes and various appetites of Museum visitors. At its inception, the Buffet had a modest menu and served around 25 to 30 customers daily. Now some 150 patrons a day come to the Museum for culinary as well as cultural nourishment, enjoying the works of art and architectural ambience of the Kimbell while dining.
The first Kimbell Cookbook was published in 1986, after numerous requests from patrons for the Buffet’s recipes. A second cookbook, published in 2001, contains revised renditions of many of the original recipes, adapted by Schafer to reflect newer culinary trends and approaches to food preparation. It remains one of the best-selling Kimbell publications.
In 2013, the Kimbell opened a café in its new Piano Pavilion that serves a coffeehouse selection of beverages, light snacks, and desserts.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: A NEW BUILDING FOR THE KIMBELL
In the fall of 2010 the Kimbell broke ground on a new museum building located to the west of the landmark Kahn Building. Designed by celebrated architect Renzo Piano and opened to the public on November 27th, 2013, this building provides much-needed space for the Kimbell, whose exhibition and education programs have grown far beyond those envisioned when the Kahn Building opened in 1972. During the major special exhibitions that the Kimbell presents on a regular basis, the gallery space available for the display of its distinguished permanent collection is severely restricted; for periods each year, much of the collection has to be kept in storage. The main purpose of the new building is to provide galleries to be used primarily for exhibitions, allowing the Kahn Building to be devoted to the permanent collection. The Piano Pavilion also provides the classrooms and studios that are essential to a full-scale museum education department, as well as an auditorium considerably larger than the one in the Kahn Building, an expanded library, and generous underground parking.
Though unique in its design, the Piano Pavilion acknowledges its older companion in its respectful scale and general plan, while at the same time asserting its own more open, transparent character. It is physically quite separate from the Kahn Building, at what Piano calls “the right distance for a conversation, not too close and not too far away.” The parklike area between the two buildings enhances the serene sound and cool sensation of the fountains that parallel the north and south porticos of the Kahn Building. The siting of the new building and its parking garage will correct the tendency of most visitors to enter the Kahn Building by what Kahn considered the secondary entrance, directing them naturally to his main entrance in the west facade.
The new building consists of two connected structures. The first and more prominent is a pavilion that faces and to some degree mirrors the Kahn Building. Here, on a tripartite facade, robust concrete walls flank a recessed entrance bay of glass. The pavilion houses a large lobby in the center, with exhibition galleries to either side, all naturally lit from an elaborately engineered roof. In the galleries, Renzo Piano has striven for an even more exquisite light quality than he has achieved before: the roof system incorporates aluminum louvers, glass, solar cells, wood beams, and stretched fabric scrims. The north and south walls of the pavilion are glass, with colonnades outside to support the beams and roof, which overhang generously for shade.
From the lobby, visitors may enter either of the galleries to the sides or go straight ahead, through a glass passageway, into the building’s second structure. In contrast to the front structure, this half of the building is self-effacing from the outside, covered by a grassy roof that is open to the public for recreational activities. It contains a third gallery that is not top-lit and is therefore suitable for especially light-sensitive works, as well as the auditorium, library, and education center. The double-height auditorium is on axis with the entrance, permitting a view through various spaces and layers of glass—from the front door to the glass wall and light well behind the auditorium stage. Visible from the lobby of the Kahn Building, this becomes the main axis of the new Kimbell Art Museum complex, emphasizing Piano’s themes of transparency and openness.
The Kimbell Art Museum provides to its members a variety of benefits and privileges, making the visitor experience more enjoyable through priority access to Museum programs, special exhibitions, and members-only events.
The program was initiated in 1982 to provide programming information and invitations to exhibition openings to an expanding regional, national, and international audience. The initial program featured two categories of membership. Members at the Subscriber level received a twice-yearly Calendar magazine, and those at the Patron level received, in addition, free admission and invitations to major exhibitions.
Popular from its inception, the program gained approximately 3,500 members in its first decade. From 1994 to 1995, with the presentation of the exhibition Cézanne to Matisse: Great French Paintings from the Barnes Collection, membership increased dramatically to 12,000 households. By late 1997, thanks to the Museum’s continuing blockbuster exhibitions, the number of members rose to 30,000 households.
Between 1997 and today, the program has enhanced its member benefits and expanded programming for young adult audiences and for major donors. The ever-popular After Hours at the Kimbell, a monthly social mixer, invites members to mingle with staff and other art lovers while listening to the best in local musical talent. The recently added Cosmopolitan category, designed for young adults, features a lavish annual gala, exclusive exhibition and permanent collection tours, and opportunities for social interaction with like-minded adults. Major donors in Circle categories enjoy a wide range of exclusive programs, including annual events with curators and conservators, as well as VIP dinners and director-led travel programs. As of September 2012, the Kimbell membership programs contained approximately 20,000 households within nine membership categories, each with custom-designed benefits and privileges.
In acknowledgement of the 40th anniversary of the Museum, on October 4, 2012, all active Kimbell members received the exclusive designation “Charter Members”—a designation which will be bestowed on all current and new members who join prior to the grand opening of the new Renzo Piano building in the fall of 2013.
To celebrate the grand opening of the new Renzo Piano Pavilion, hundreds of generous Museum patrons became a part of the Kimbell Art Museum’s history by contributing to the Cornerstone Society, in support of the Renzo Piano building project. Donations continue to be received and the Cornerstone Society registry can be found on display in the new building.
The Kimbell Art Museum is extremely grateful for the continued support and participation of each and every member in our membership family.