Yesterday I visited for the first time the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, NY. Founded in 1897 but relocated from nearby South Hampton last year, the Parrish focuses on American art, with a particular emphasis on work from the artist colony on Long Island’s picturesque North and South Shores. Like the area around it, the structure itself is absolutely stunning. The museum was designed by Basel-based Pritzker Prize winning architects Herzog & de Meuron, who designed or repurposed, among other prominent cultural institutions, the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) and Tate Modern (London). As you can see, the 615-foot “barn” fits perfectly within it’s surroundings of tall grasses and wide vistas, the same environment which inspired the likes of William Merritt Chase, Fairfield Porter, and Childe Hassam. (Indeed, it was Chase who, in the late-19th century, founded the Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art. The school’s students, observing scenes of changing daylight over eastern Long Island waters, became pioneers of American Impressionism; their work can be found in the museum’s permanent collection.)
|Visible through the museum building is the rural “countryside” of eastern Long Island|
In contrast to the maze-like layouts of other museums–which, to me, feel confining and confusing, as I wander in and out of galleries with seemingly no exit (or natural light!)–I found the central corridor layout of the Parrish especially inviting. No sense of “Did I already walk in there?” (or worse, “Did I not walk in there?”), and no chance of missing the exhibition you actually wanted to see. All of the major display areas are clearly identified, as in the collection highlights hall found in the Harriet and Esteban Vicente Gallery, seen below.
|Galleries radiate out from the central “spine” of the barn-like museum|
|John Chamberlain’s monumental “Tambourinefrappe” (2010)
dominates the Harriet and Esteban Vicente Gallery at the Parrish Art Museum
Here are the exhibitions currently open at the Museum, and here are the hours visitors are welcome.
(All photo credits belong to Nicholas Merkelson.)