“This project has been in the making since 1907,” says Director Cameron Kitchin. “The new Schmidlapp Gallery borrows from the best of our installations over time. It is a rethinking of not just the design, but the purpose of the space—why it exists in the architecture of the building and the pathway of the visitor experience.” Newly envisioned as a “landing pad” for the museum, patrons are encouraged to pause, converse, and discover. No longer a mere artery in the building, Schmidlapp Gallery embraces the heart and soul of the museum’s mission: by using the power of art to inspire Cincinnati’s communities. The installation of Saul Steinberg’s 75’-0” Mural of Cincinnati immediately succeeds at embracing the museum’s mission, and the neutral walls allow the mural to take center stage. Adjacent to the mural are looking lounges, inspired by a contemporary version of a “Wunderkammer.” A simple rhythm of vitrines and windows create a dialogue between the natural world and the museum’s collection. The large windows draw in the outdoors while the materials within the space reference the Bimel Courtyard. The floor pattern references the pattern of stone in the courtyard and the granite tile matches that of the Cincinnati Wing. Along with the windows, other elements that were key to the success of this informal gallery were: acoustical plaster, a mixture of minimalist and historical details, as well as careful planning to protect the Steinberg mural from natural light. Specialized UV blocking glass brings natural light into the space while it protects the valuable artwork.
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