NORTH ADAMS -- The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is poised to open its second long-term installation.
The museum will open its new 10,000-square-foot Anselm Kiefer gallery, in partnership with the Hall Art Foundation of New York City., on Friday, Sept. 27.
"Following on the heels of Sol LeWitt, this is the second of what could be more in a series of very long-term temporary exhibitions here at Mass MoCA," Director Joseph Thompson said last week, during the museum's annual fall preview event in Club B-10.
Over the last two years, the museum has transformed Building 15, the remnants of the massive concrete water tank which once served as a water storage and filtration tank for Sprague Electric Co., into a gallery which will host the works of the German artist.
"Building 15 used to be a five-story building on the south branch of the Hoosic River, just across from the parking lot," he said. "We took that building down about eight years ago and left the concrete trough that was inside its walls. The concrete walls are over 24 inches thick and it was just too expensive to tear down."
Thompson said the remaining concrete structure was left intact for future use. It has since had a galvanized shed built on top of the concrete foundation.
"We left it there, knowing it was a beautiful structure; very stark and tough. It felt like a minimal sculpture right from the beginning," he said. "We had this idea that sometime, something would come along and there would be an interesting use for it. That something did come along in the shape of the Hall Art Foundation, our partner in this Kiefer exhibition."
The exhibition, which is slated to last 15 years, will feature the works of the Hall Art Foundation's permanent collection, including "Etroits sont les Vaisseaux" or "Narrow are the Vessels," an 82-foot long undulating wave-like structure made of cast concrete and exposed rebar originally exhibited at the museum in 2008.
"We first met the principals of the foundation, Andy and Christine Hall, in 2008 when we installed ‘Vessels.' Over the last 15 years or so, they have been avid collectors of contemporary art, with a particular strength in Kiefer," Thompson said.
The exhibition will also feature Kiefer's "Velimir Chlebnikov," a steel pavilion containing 30 large-scale paintings inspired by the quixotic theories of the Russian mathematical experimentalist Velimir Chlebnikov, as well as "The Women of the Revolution" (Les Femmes de la Revolution).
"It's an homage to the heroines of the French wars," Thompson said of the latter piece. "It's a series of lead cots, each attributed to a particular woman who had a particularly important role in one of the French wars of independence. On one hand, the entire exhibit hinges on these themes of war, but like Vessels, there is a whole other level of meaning -- love and desire kind of ricochets between warfare and Aphrodite."
The new gallery, which expands the museum's campus to the west, has led to the beginnings of a new entrance on West Main Street.
"In our very long-term thinking, we will eventually open up that backside of the complex to pedestrian traffic," Thompson said. "We're not ready to do that yet, but we are putting in the infrastructure to allow us to do it."
The Anselm Kiefer gallery will be open seasonally, from about mid-April through mid- to late November. Admission to the gallery will be included in the overall ticket price for the museum.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email