Building Dedicated to John Chamberlain’s Sculptures in Marfa, Texas, Gets Restored

After a year-long restoration, the building that plays home to 23 monumental sculptures by John Chamberlain in Marfa, Texas, will reopen at the end of April. The Chinati Foundation—which oversees the Chamberlain Building as well as much of what Donald Judd created and commissioned while turning Marfa into an art-world destination decades ago—replaced the structure’s metal roof and skylights, and added ramps to bring the building up to code.

The collaboration with JC Stoddard Construction, which has worked on historic Texas structures including the Alamo, and the architects Schaum/Shieh also “maintains Judd’s original designs by restoring the building’s pivot doors and adobe perimeter walls as well as by replanting the sotols in the courtyard,” according to a press release.

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In a statement, Chinati Foundation director Jenny Moore said, “Almost four decades in the desert have taken their toll on the Chamberlain Building. The restoration work preserves and strengthens this landmark so that it may continue to be a central destination in Marfa. The improvements to the Chamberlain Building, along with the rest of Chinati’s art, architecture, and land, ensure that we continue to serve as a beacon of creativity and inspiration for decades to come.”

The restoration of the building has also included conservation work on Chamberlain’s sculptures, which were often made with metal from car parts and—in the case of Barge Marfa (1983)—giant blocks of foam. Altogether, the completion of the work will mark the first step toward executing a master plan initiated by Chinati in 2017 to focus on art conservation, architectural restoration, land preservation, and operational improvements. It also comes in the wake of a recommendation in January that the Central Marfa Historic District, where the Chamberlain Building is located, be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


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