The New Glenstone Museum Opens to the Public on October 4, Revealing in Full Its Vision of Art, Architecture, and Landscape Joined in a Seamless Whole

September 21, 2018
A gravel path cuts through an expanse of meadow. A number of visitors are moving toward the grey concrete buildings in the distance. Trees amass further in the landscape.

POTOMAC, MD, SEPTEMBER 21, 2018 — Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, will begin welcoming the public on October 4, 2018, revealing the results of a five-year expansion that has at last fully realized its founders’ vision of art, architecture, and landscape merged into a seamless experience.

Established by Emily Wei Rales and Mitchell P. Rales, Glenstone opened in 2006 and now includes a new 204,000-square-foot museum building called the Pavilions, designed by Thomas Phifer of Thomas Phifer and Partners; an additional 130 acres of rolling meadows, woodlands, and streams, designed by Adam Greenspan and Peter Walker of PWP Landscape Architecture; an Arrival Hall and bookstore; and two cafés. The original 30,000-square-foot museum building, called the Gallery, was designed by Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, and opened in a 100-acre setting. With the addition of its new facilities, Glenstone now offers the public a total of 59,000 square feet of indoor exhibition space in two buildings, with all works drawn from its own renowned collection of modern and contemporary art, and 230 acres of serene, unspoiled landscape incorporating installations of major works of outdoor sculpture.

“Mitch and I have been dreaming for years about the day when we’d be able to pull back the curtain and reveal the new Glenstone,” said Emily Rales, director and co-founder of Glenstone. “Now, at last, the art installations and buildings and landscape are complete, and people can finally encounter Glenstone as a whole, as we’ve always meant for it to be seen. We’re excited by Glenstone, and we hope our visitors will share that feeling, now and for many years to come.”

“We’re deeply grateful to everyone who has worked with us to create Glenstone: the great artists who have given us their trust and collaboration, the magnificently talented architects and landscape architects who have been our partners, and the wonderfully dedicated professional staff who have lived this journey with us every step of the way,” said Mitchell P. Rales, co-founder. “Now we’re thrilled to welcome the people who are really the most important collaborators of all: the visitors for whom we’ve built the new Glenstone.”

Admission to Glenstone is always free, with visits scheduled on the website ( to ensure an unhurried and uncrowded experience for all.

The integration of architecture with landscape, and both with art, is key to the experience of Glenstone. “We considered the landscape as the inspiration,” Thomas Phifer explains. “The visitor’s arrival is choreographed through the trees and open fields, heightening your experience with the land and revealing the subtle qualities of the site. From your first moments at Glenstone you experience a place with few distractions, the bustle of ordinary daily activities drops away, and your mind and soul prepare for an intimate encounter with art.”

Inaugural Presentations in the Pavilions

The Pavilions, constructed of stacked blocks of concrete inset with broad expanses of glass, is embedded into the landscape of Glenstone like a natural feature. From the outside, the building appears to comprise a group of eleven separate masonry structures, reminiscent perhaps of an Italian hill town. Inside, visitors discover eleven distinct rooms—each with a size, proportion, and treatment of light specially suited to its purpose—connected by a glass-walled Passage ringing a lushly planted, 18,000-square-foot Water Court.

Works selected for the inaugural installation of the Pavilions exemplify the philosophy of Glenstone’s collection, representing key moments in the development of art since World War II, a period when our understanding of the nature of art has been continually challenged and redefined. At the time of the opening, nine rooms of the Pavilions house single-artist installations of major works or bodies of work.

The single-artist installations, many realized with the collaboration of the artists, are:

• two large-scale sculptures by Martin Puryear: Big Phrygian, 2010–2014, and The Load, 2012, monumental examples of the artist’s evocations of history, identity, and struggle (Room 1)

• the Moon Landing triptych by On Kawara, 1969, three large-scale canvases commemorating the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission of July 1969, comprising one of the very rare groups of the artist’s Date Paintings designated as a set, installed in a skylit room (Room 3)

Untitled, 1992, by Robert Gober, a major three-section installation work first presented at Dia Center for the Arts, shown for the first time on long-term view (Room 4)

Collapse, 1967/2016, by Michael Heizer, a sculpture of 15 steel beams placed in a seemingly chance arrangement within the constructed negative space of a rectangular pit (Room 5), with Heizer’s 1968/2016 Compression Line constructed in the landscape outside the building

Ever is Over All, 1997, by Pipilotti Rist, an immersive, two-channel video and sound installation featuring a staged on-the-street performance (Room 6)

• four sculptures by Charles Ray—Table, 1990, Fall ’91, 1992, The New Beetle, 2005, and Baled Truck, 2014—presented with Ray’s collaboration as the first in an ongoing series (Room 8)

Livro do Tempo I, 1961, by Lygia Pape, an assemblage of 365 unique wooden geometric reliefs, each representing one day of the year (Room 9)

Moss Sutra with the Seasons, 2010–2015, by Brice Marden, a magisterial five-panel painting that is the artist’s only commissioned work, bathed in a natural light that comes through clerestory windows (Room 10)

• and five sculptures, 1951–1991, by Cy Twombly, selected in consultation with the artist (Room 11)

The largest room in the Pavilions (Room 2), with 9,000 square feet of column-free space, houses an inaugural installation of 65 artworks by 52 artists, dating from 1943 to 1989. Showing the depth and breadth of Glenstone’s collection, these iconic examples of movements including Abstract Expressionism, Gutai, Brazilian modernism, Arte Povera, Minimalism, and post-Minimalism are by Arman, Ruth Asawa, Jo Baer, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lynda Benglis, Joseph Beuys, Alighiero e Boetti, Lee Bontecou, Marcel Broodthaers, Alexander Calder, Sergio Camargo, Lygia Clark, Willem de Kooning, Marcel Duchamp, Dan Flavin, Alberto Giacometti, Arshile Gorky, David Hammons, Keith Haring, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Akira Kanayama, Martin Kippenberger, Yves Klein, Franz Kline, Barbara Kruger, Yayoi Kusama, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Marisa Merz, Sadamasa Motonaga, Bruce Nauman, Hélio Oiticica, Sigmar Polke, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Faith Ringgold, Dieter Roth, Mark Rothko, Mira Schendel, Richard Serra, Shozo Shimamoto, Kazuo Shiraga, Frank Stella, Clyfford Still, Atsuko Tanaka, Jean Tinguely, Rosemarie Trockel, Anne Truitt, Andy Warhol, and Toshio Yoshida.

On view at the entry to the Pavilions is a language work by Lawrence Weiner, MATTER SO SHAKEN TO ITS CORE TO LEAD TO A CHANGE IN INHERENT FORM TO THE EXTENT OF BRINGING ABOUT A CHANGE IN THE DESTINY OF THE MATERIAL PRIMARY, SECONDARY, TERTIARY, 2002, commissioned by Glenstone. Shown in the Passage along the Water Court are Water Double, v. 3, 2013–2015, by Roni Horn, two of the largest solid cast-glass cylinders the artist has created. In the Viewing Gallery (Room 7), the sole fixed object is a bench designed by Martin Puryear and furniture maker Michael Hurwitz, on which visitors may relax, enjoy a framed view of nature, and browse through a selection of art books recommended by artists featured in the Pavilions. Puryear and Hurwitz also designed a bench that is installed on a platform overlooking the Water Court, a bench in the Entry Pavilion, and benches throughout the Passage.

In the Gallery: Louise Bourgeois: To Unravel a Torment

Since its opening in 2006, Glenstone has used its Gallery building for thematic group exhibitions and monographic surveys, the latter of which have featured the works of Roni Horn, Fred Sandback, and Peter Fischli David Weiss. When the new Glenstone opens on October 4, the Gallery will be installed with the temporary exhibition Louise Bourgeois: To Unravel a Torment. This five-decade survey of Bourgeois’s achievement, drawn entirely from Glenstone’s collection, features nearly thirty works, from the artist’s early wooden “Personage” sculptures (1947–1954) through the room-like installations she called “Cells” (1990–1993) and includes a recently acquired masterpiece, The Destruction of the Father, 1974, that was a turning point in her career. The exhibition, which opened in May 2018, will remain on view through January 2020.

Outdoor Sculpture at Glenstone

Outdoor sculptures integrated into the landscape at Glenstone include major works by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, FOREST (for a thousand years…), 2012; Robert Gober, Two Partially Buried Sinks, 1986-1987; Andy Goldsworthy, Clay Houses (Boulder-Room-Holes), 2007; Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled”, 1992–1995, realized posthumously by Glenstone in 2007; Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled, 2005; Jeff Koons, Split-Rocker, 2000, the only permanent installation of this monumental floral sculpture; Richard Serra, Sylvester, 2001, and the commissioned Contour 290, 2004; and Tony Smith, Smug, 1973/2005, realized by Glenstone in its intended painted aluminum version after the artist’s death, in close collaboration with his family.

The Architecture and Landscape of Glenstone

Visitors arriving at Glenstone do not immediately enter the museum building, but instead leave their cars in a parking grove and go to a freestanding Arrival Hall, clad with cedar on the exterior and finished inside with white maple. After being greeted and getting their bearings, the visitors proceed on a short journey, passing over a stream on a timber bridge, crossing an expansive meadow with an outdoor sculpture visible in the distance, and then beginning to glimpse the Pavilions on the contoured path through low, rolling hills, wooded with honey locusts, oaks, and tulip trees.

As the path curves up a rise in the land, visitors at last get their first full view of the Pavilions, which at this point appears to be a cluster of simple masonry forms, varying in size and embedded in the top of a knoll. It is only when they go into the Entry Pavilion and then descend to gallery level that they discern that the apparently separate structures of the Pavilions are in fact a ring of rooms, connected by the glass-walled Passage that lines the Water Court.

Natural light is fundamental to the design of the Pavilions. Most rooms have large clerestories or lay lights to provide balanced daylight from above. The play of light and shadow varies throughout the day, and as the seasons change the light fluctuates, revealing subtle qualities in the artworks and providing a more natural and nuanced viewing experience.

To punctuate their encounters with the art, visitors may step outside to the Water Court for a quiet, contemplative moment with the open air, the sky, and the plantings of water lilies, rushes, and irises that change through the seasons. From within the Water Court, it is also possible to appreciate how the primary materials of the Pavilions evoke a direct, timeless, and elemental dialogue with the natural surroundings. The exteriors are made of stacked blocks of cast concrete, individually poured to measure six feet long, a foot high, and a foot deep. Although no color-altering pigment was used, the pouring method and mixture of cement and sand result in slight variations in the light gray color and in the texture. This finish contrasts with the smooth precision of the windows, which have been specially engineered using glass panels as large as nine feet by thirty feet and are set flush into stainless steel mullions. The glass surfaces and concrete blocks form a seamless skin that bridges the building’s indoor and outdoor spaces.

Much as Thomas Phifer designed the architecture as part of the experience of landscape and art, PWP Landscape Architecture has designed the landscape to be integrated with the art and architecture. “Instead of focusing the landscape design around the buildings and making them singular destinations,” Adam Greenspan explains, “we proposed from the start to unify the property as a destination in its entirety, outside the city. Our goal is to slow people down in their experience of the setting, changing their daily tempo and expectations of ornamental suburban plantings. Visitors will come to an integrated and relaxed way of focusing on the art and architecture, within an almost rural landscape that foregrounds the dynamic qualities of nature.”

The landscape design integrates walking paths, bridges, and restored streams, meadows, and woodlands. Glenstone has planted over 8,000 trees on the site since opening in 2006 and has developed approximately 33 acres of mown pasture land into sustainable meadows with a range of indigenous flora. The visitor entrance is framed by dry-stack stone walls constructed by a master craftsman with stone sourced from a nearby quarry.

Glenstone manages its landscape through exclusively organic methods, supporting a wide range of local ecosystems and maintaining a balance between native flora and fauna and the museum’s human-made structures. As part of its commitment to sustainability, the new Glenstone incorporates a freestanding Environmental Center, a multiuse maintenance and education facility where, in 2019, visitors may learn about techniques practiced by the museum, including on-site composting, compost tea-brewing, natural landscape management, waste reduction, materials recycling, and water conservation.


On the occasion of the re-opening, Glenstone has published a series of books about the work of artists represented in the collection, available at the museum or through Artbook | D.A.P. ( Edited by Emily Wei Rales in collaboration with Glenstone’s curatorial staff and featuring original texts by a range of scholars, the amply illustrated, full-color publications include a catalogue accompanying the exhibition Louise Bourgeois: To Unravel a Torment and monographs about some of the artists shown in the Pavilions. In addition, Glenstone has published a visitor-friendly, 64-page Field Guide, featuring alphabetized entries by 56 contributors about the museum’s art, architecture, and landscape and light-hearted illustrations by Jordan Awan.

About Glenstone Museum

Glenstone, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is integrated into more than 230 acres of gently rolling pasture and unspoiled woodland in Montgomery County, Maryland, less than 15 miles from the heart of Washington, DC. Established by the not-for-profit Glenstone Foundation, the museum opened in 2006 and provides a contemplative, intimate setting for experiencing iconic works of art and architecture within a natural environment.

Glenstone is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 am to 5 pm. Visitors are invited to explore the grounds on their own or join one of several outdoor sculpture tours offered throughout the day. Admission to Glenstone and parking are free and visits can be scheduled online at Same-day visits can be scheduled using the website or a smartphone. Please note: Glenstone is closed to the public until the grand re-opening on October 4.

Image: The Water Court of the Pavilions. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy: Glenstone Museum.

Media inquiries:

General inquiries: