Culture Museum of Fine Arts: successful extension

Culture Museum of Fine Arts: successful extension - Culture

There is an old star lighting up Chur’s art scene: the Fine Arts Museum was renovated and extended in a construction period of around two years; a modern cubic building has been standing next to the historic Villa Planta since the summer of 2016. Perhaps surprisingly – a harmonious addition. Museum director Stephan Kunz explains what the new museum has to offer in an interview.

Stephan Kunz, why did the Fine Arts Museum need this extension?
Quite simple: we were bursting at the seams. The Villa Planta is a former private residence which does not offer much space, particularly for touring exhibitions. And the old Sulser Building next door was designed as a natural history museum and can thus no longer satisfy today’s needs of an art museum.

The Villa Planta has now been renovated and had a new modern building added to it. How do the old and new buildings fit in together?
The two buildings interact well – something which really pleases me. The villa consists of intimate rooms and small closets with great charm but limited possibilities. The new building with its large neutral rooms is a great help in that respect.

Could you perhaps give us more detail on how the two buildings differ from one another – what do the old and new parts of the museum offer?
The historical Villa Planta houses the collection focussing on the Giacometti family. The building was sensitively renovated; it is after all a listed building and underwent exemplary renovation in the 1980s. We put new colour on the walls and a new lighting concept was installed. The cubic building by architects Barozzi / Veiga is modern and spacious and, on two floors with an open room structure and high walls, offers plenty of space for a further section of our collection as well as special touring exhibitions.

Is there any change in content, perhaps a new orientation?
Basically we are building on the original concept but now have space for new forms of art – for example with the 'Lab' in the new building where we give artists the chance to design something according to their own ideas and to challenge visitors’ classic expectations. We want to reflect our origin, our location, but at the same time be open to new content. The opening exhibition "Solo Walks – a gallery of walking", which has Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture "L’homme qui marche" as its leitmotiv, is symbolic of this moving forward: we go away from here, from our roots, and reach out to the outside, to the international art scene.

«The extension to the museum is definitely a step towards the next league.»
Stephan Kunz

Where do you see the Fine Arts Museum today in comparison to other Swiss art museums?
We are definitely taking a step towards the next league. I see us on a par with other medium-sized museums in Switzerland such as Lucerne and Winterthur. We have twice the exhibition space now with the new building, and three times as much wall space for hanging up works of art.

What is so characteristic of artists from Graubünden?
With a lot of artists from Graubünden you can really feel the cultural influence from the landscape we have, nature and the mountains. I don’t mean by that that they all draw pictures of mountains – their ties to the canton are shown in different ways, regardless of what type of art they indulge in.

What is happening at the moment in the Graubünden art scene?
Contemporary art is eclectic. Because there is no art training here, many young artists leave Graubünden – and being in a different situation and having to deal with new challenges leave their mark. Nevertheless, I have the impression that young artists have very strong ties with Chur, with their home canton, and sometimes they also come back. Naturally I would hope they would establish ties with and show commitment to our art museum.

Current exhibitions

Solo Walks – a gallery of walking, until 6 November 2016
Starting off with Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture "L’homme qui marche" (man walking) a tour responding to the architecture of the new museum shows the works of 40 international artists on the subject of walking.

Tintarella di luna – Zilla Leutenegger, until 6 November 2016
Zilla Leutenegger grew up in Chur and is the first artist to show her works in the 'Laboratory' in the new part of the museum. Dark pictures of the night show interiors which become a place of special lighting.

80 Years of Bündner Art, 4 December 2016 to 21 January 2017
The Graubünden Visarte section is celebrating its eightieth anniversary. The traditional annual exhibition will be shown throughout the museum’s new building.

New presentation of the collection
An unmistakable profile was created with works by Angelika Kauffmann, the artist family Giacometti, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and lots of other artists, who all have a close connection to the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Thanks to the museum extension, representative parts of the collection can now be exhibited permanently.