The Chinati Foundation Master Plan

A Précis


The Chinati Foundation Master Plan was created in collaboration with the design and planning firm Sasaki with funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Still Water Foundation, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, and Chinati’s board of trustees. The plan was developed through a year-long process structured in three phases. Phase one, in effect from the spring of 2016 through the summer, began with a land survey and a physical assessment of the main museum grounds and downtown Marfa buildings. Sasaki conducted interviews with trustees, staff, artists, conservators, art historians, curators, as well as members of the Judd Foundation staff. The planning team included experts from Heritage Strategies, Lord Cultural Resources, Aeon Preservation Services, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. The analysis encompassed a review of Chinati’s mission, the existing buildings and collection, attendance trends, environmental and ecological systems, the history of the former fort, and the character of Marfa.

Phase two began in fall 2016 and included the development of a master plan vision with guiding principles that balances Chinati’s mission with strategies for land, facilities, and art. In December a community meeting was held at the USO Building in Marfa, providing an opportunity for open dialogue with the public about the planning process and a way to incorporate community concerns. An overview of research and findings was shared with Chinati’s board of trustees in December, 2016.

Guidelines, initiatives, and recommendations were further refined during the final phase of the process. It included the development of a priorities and implementation plan that provides a timeline for future decisions about the buildings, the land, unfinished projects, the permanent collection and exhibition programs, visitor access, and conservation needs.

In February 2017, a draft of the master plan was shared with the board of trustees. The third phase culminated in the public presentation of the master plan in a two-part symposium held in April at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Crowley Theater in Marfa.

The Chinati Foundation Master Plan supports the museum’s mission with six guiding principles:

  • Chinati’s initiatives will advance Donald Judd’s mission to present and maintain on a permanent basis the work of a select group of artists, with an emphasis on works that integrate art, architecture, and land.
  • Donald Judd’s writings and actions as manifested at Chinati will inform decisions.
  • Physical growth of the museum will be limited to existing structures or foundations in lieu of building on “undamaged land,” as Judd identified it.
  • Chinati will retain the dynamic mix of artworks, programs, and residential presence that is essential to its sense of place.
  • Preservation at Chinati will respect both the nature of the artists’ interventions and the visitor’s experience.
  • Chinati will continue to serve its local and global communities through expanded public access to the collection, supporting programs, scholarship, and partnerships.

These principles are reflected in five initiatives that define the overall structure of the plan and identify priority projects.

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