What makes an art gallery memorable? The Beyeler in Basel works its magic with a beautiful natural setting, light-filled architecture, and an all-star collection that make a visit an inspiring experience.
BASEL, Switzerland ‒ Great modern and contemporary art has many homes these days, but the in pretty , just 20 minutes by tram from , will always have a special place in my heart. It’s a perfect example of what the French call tout ensemble (parts forming a whole): Every aspect of a visit — from the trip there to the on the tree-filled grounds to the brilliantly curated works by artists like Monet, Matisse, Giacometti, and Rothko — came together to help me see art, and the world, with new insight.
opened the museum in 1997 to make their collection of 300 or so paintings and sculptures gathered over 50 years as gallery owners accessible to all. Ernst Beyeler was one of the co-founders of , the international art-fair phenomemon, in 1970. Today, the Fondation Beyeler is Switzerland's most popular art museum, with a in the works.
Central Basel is historic and rich in cultural highlights, but taking
Nature and art interact through the windows; you might see the pond outside while looking at Monet's water lilies.
Renzo Piano's building impresses me with its modesty and its clear goals of blending into an historic landscape and offering brilliant light for the art within. The simple, boxlike structure, in reddish porphyry with overhanging glass panels, hugs the landscape and is surrounded by trees and fields. I love the pond that laps against a floor-to-ceiling window in the museum.
Ultimately it's all about the art. With around 20 galleries, the museum is satisfyingly intimate: I can focus on each exquisite piece and not be overwhelmed. The Beyeler rotates its collection and has spectacular special exhibits with works from elsewhere, so there’s plenty fresh to see with each visit. Nature and art interact through the windows; you might see the pond outside while looking at Monet's water lilies. The high-tech glass roof and windows allow light to stream onto works by Picasso, Klee, Kiefer, and others, opening them to nature and revealing their details. Seeing modern art here makes me realize how unique these works are and that creativity like this is always inspiring.
The Beyeler is an aesthetic wonder: Put it on your art list.