Nasher glare shields 'temporary,' museum says

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 9:29 PM

DALLAS — As the Nasher Sculpture Center unveils a new exhibit, it may also be unveiling a solution to the sunlight problem that has plagued the Dallas museum for more than year.

Museum directors insist the glare bouncing off the nearby Museum Tower is still a serious problem that seems no closer to being solved. Yet its detractors question why temporary panels installed on the museum’s roof to protect the newly-arrived artwork can’t simply be left in place.

“It seems like it should be permanent,” said Dallas City Council member Sheffie Kadane.

Kadane serves on the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Board, which owns the Museum Tower. “They’ve already resolved there are no more shadows in there, so what’s wrong with that?” he aksed.

Ahead of a new exhibit by renowned sculptor Kenneth Price, the Nasher installed temporary mesh panels across its windows and glass roof to protect Price’s delicate ceramics.

This is one of the biggest shows at the Nasher since the glare problems began. The panels shade the main exhibition hall from the harsh reflection off the Nasher’s 42-story neighbor.

“It’s dimmer in there. It’s not as light,” worried museum guide Gerry Balsley. The honeycomb roof was specially designed to only let indirect natural light shine onto the artwork.

The new panels detract from the museum’s beauty and dampen the overall light inside, Baisley said.

“There are lot of things” in the museum, he said, “that would look a lot better if they had a little natural light on them.”

The museum began using the temporary mesh panels last year after the tower’s glare became apparent.

“It’s not a fix,” said museum spokeswoman Jill Magnuson, adding that the panels damage the quality of light inside the museum — one of the Nasher’s selling points — but that they must be used to satisfy contracts with visiting exhibits.

“It’s only an insurance policy to keep the shows going,” Magnuson said. “This is significantly compromising our core business of showing art.”

Yet, since the panels protect the works and seem to diffuse the glare, Kadane wonders why the museum can’t accept them as a solution. Especially, he says, since the two sides seem stuck in a stalemate.

For months, the museum has insisted the glare problem is the tower’s to fix. Directors have urged the skyscraper's owners to install louvers on its glass façade.

Tower officials have rejected the louvers idea, saying they’re unattractive and wouldn’t work.

“As a pension system, we had over 20 resolutions to fix that tower,” Kadane said, “and I think [the museum] had only one resolution... and that resolution won’t work.”

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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