Small galleries, nonprofit museums, and community art centers require partnerships with architects to fulfill their mission of bringing art to the public. “Art is not something that people feel is very accessible to them,” says Amanda Harrell-Seyburn, Assoc. AIA. A designer at East Arbor Architecture in East Lansing, Mich., Harrell-Seyburn leverages her background as a gallerist and curator to create functional and welcoming art spaces. “As a designer, I think about how I can make a space approachable but still maximize the opportunity to exhibit work,” she says. She hopes to encourage architects to understand their role in providing quality environments where the public can interact with art.
Historic or even underutilized buildings present some of the richest opportunities for galleries, large-scale installations, or incongruities that make us rethink spaces that we have taken for granted, or that we might not have ever noticed before. “So often, a building is saved by a visual art space moving into it,” Harrell-Seyburn says. “It’s ideal because the community already cares for that building and has embraced it.”
These four organizations, all housed in a redesigned or historic structure, demonstrate how architects are enhancing access to visual arts across the country.