The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, hosts a small but excellent art collection as well as traveling art exhibitions, educational programs and an extensive research library. Its initial artwork came from the private collection of Kay and Velma Kimbell, who also provided funds for a new building to house it.
The building was designed by renowned architect Louis I. Kahn and is widely recognized as one of the most significant works of architecture of recent times. It is especially noted for the wash of silvery natural light across its vaulted gallery ceilings.
In 1966, before the museum even had a building, founding director Brown included this directive in his Policy Statement: "The goal shall be definitive excellence, not size of collection." Accordingly, the museum's collection today consists of only about 350 works of art, but they are of notably high quality.
The European collection is the most extensive in the museum and includes Michelangelo's first known painting, The Torment of Saint Anthony, the only painting by Michelangelo on exhibit in the Americas.
It also includes works by Duccio, Fra Angelico, Mantegna, El Greco, Carracci, Caravaggio, Rubens, Guercino, La Tour, Poussin, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Boucher, Gainsborough, Vigée-Lebrun, Friedrich (the first painting by the artist acquired by a public collection outside of Europe),Cézanne, Monet, Caillebotte, Matisse, Mondrian and Picasso. Works from the classical period include antiquities from Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Rome.
The museum owns few pieces created after the mid-20th century (believing that era to be the province of its neighbor, the Modern Art Museum Of Fort Worth) or any American art (believing that to be the province of its other neighbor, the Amon Carter Museum).The museum also houses a substantial library with over 59,000 books, periodicals and auction catalogs that are available as a resource to art historians and to faculty and graduate students from surrounding universities.
Kahn's first design for the galleries called for angular vaults of folded concrete plates with light slots at the top. Brown liked the light slots but rejected this particular design because it had the ceilings 30 feet (9 m) high, too high for the museum he envisioned.
Further research by Marshall Meyers, Kahn's project architect for the Kimbell museum, revealed that using a cycloid curve for the gallery vaults would reduce the ceiling height and provide other benefits as well.
David Brownlee and David DeLong, authors of Louis I. Kahn: In The Realm of Architecture, declare that "in Fort Worth, Kahn created a skylight system without peer in the history of architecture.":Robert McCarter, author of Louis I. Kahn, says the entry gallery is "one of the most beautiful spaces ever built," with its "astonishing, ethereal, silver-colored light.":Carter Wiseman, author of Louis I. Kahn: Beyond Time and Style, said that "the light in the Kimbell gallery assumed an almost ethereal quality, and has been the distinguishing factor in its fame ever since."