The Menil Drawing Institute was established in 2008 to further the study of modern and contemporary drawings, and since that time it has organized important traveling exhibitions including Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective (2012) and Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds (2014)
The fifth art building to join the Menil neighborhood—the Menil Drawing Institute—opened to the public on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Additionally to the exhibitions mentioned before, the forthcoming six-volume catalog raisonné of the drawings of Jasper Johns has been produced under the auspices of the institute. Recognizing that the museum’s artist-centered approach and growing collection of drawings offered a singular opportunity, the Board of Trustees chose to incorporate a building dedicated to modern and contemporary drawings into the Menil’s institutional master plan. Los Angeles-based architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee (Johnston Marklee) were selected to create a distinctive freestanding structure dedicated to the acquisition, exhibition, study, conservation, and storage of these artworks. The unique 30,146-square-foot building features a trio of spacious courtyards and a design that modulates daylight in a way that both illuminates and protects delicate works on paper. Significant gifts have been instrumental to the Menil Drawing Institute’s early and continuing success, and the Menil has now established a special acquisition fund for modern and contemporary drawings.
In 2012, after a year-long international search for an architect to design the Menil Drawing Institute, the Menil selected the Los Angeles-based firm Johnston Marklee. Founded in 1998 by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, the firm has undertaken residential, commercial, and institutional projects and exhibition environments worldwide, with a particular focus on the arts and collaborations with artists. Notable projects include writers-in-residence facilities for the Lannan Foundation in Marfa, Texas; View House, Rosario, Argentina; Hill House, Pacific Palisades, California; and Helios House, Los Angeles.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
The distinguished landscape architecture firm of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has been retained to transform the outdoor experience of the Menil. This award-winning firm has created environmentally sustainable and experientially rich sites of various scales, with projects including Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House, the High Line in New York City, and the Lower Don Lands project in Toronto. At the Menil, Michael Van Valkenburgh and his team have chosen to emphasize local floral to underscore the quiet elegance of the Menil campus architecture.
Photos by Richard Barnes