Best Museum - 2007
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
In the past five years, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson's site-specific work has been exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, the Gallery Koyanagi in Tokyo, San Francisco's MOMA and...the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis. Wash. U.'s campus gallery packs more punch than you'd imagine. Like most of Eliasson's work, Your Imploded View, purchased for the Kemper's new Fumihiko Maki-designed location in 2006, toys with space and your senses. It's a 600-pound aluminum sphere that dangles from the atrium's ceiling, simultaneously reflecting and distorting viewers, while casting a bedeviling shadow. This welcome to the museum (if you don't count the sculpture garden outside), is just one of the dazzling tricks the Kemper can play in its new quarters. Another trick is the museum's permanent collection itself, which rivals any strong Midwestern museum's, now that chief curator Sabine Eckmann has the space to show it off. Just like its near neighbor the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Kemper is free and open to the public. Check it out daily from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. (open Friday until 8 p.m.; closed Tuesdays and holidays).