Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art houses a unique and rare collection of 20th-century modern pieces of artwork. Amassed by a North Carolina resident family and donated to the museum, the permanent and rotating exhibits demonstrate significant contributions to art from this time period.The museum building itself is unique, created by a well known Swiss architect, and designed specifically to showcase the pieces of work. The Betchtler Museum is visited by thousands of art enthusiasts each year who are welcome to view the collection and rotating exhibits.
Backstory and Context
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art opened in 2010, and quickly became a fixture in the Charlotte museum scene. The building which houses the museum itself is significant, as it was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, whose other major contributions to the United States art scene includes designing the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The building itself is an artistic and purposeful contribution. The museum is known for it’s soaring glass atrium which stretches across the museum, infusing natural light throughout the four floors. Other features include a terra cotta exterior, which encloses the building, and vaulted skylight system. The interior design of the building was precisely selected to infuse a natural and organic sense of elegance. Steel, glass, terra cotta, black granite, polished concrete and wood composed the primary palette of construction materials. Botta himself designed this array, as well as many of the internal fixtures for the space, including the reception desk, the gallery benches, the cafe bar, and globe hanging lights.
The museum is named for the Bechtler family, including Andreas Bechtler, a native Swiss but North Carolina resident who collected nearly 1,500 pieces of artwork completed by major 20th-century modernism figures. The Bechtler’s amassed this collection through a combination of inheritance and personal gathering, passed down through parents, siblings, and extended family.
Exhibited in the collection are works from famous 20th-century artists, with an emphasis on the School of Paris post World War II. Artists displayed include Andy Warhol, Barbara Hepworth, Alberto Giacometti, Max Ernst, Jean Tinguely, Joan Miro, and Pablo Picasso.
One of the more well-known pieces is the 17.5-foot sculpture, The Firebird. Designed by French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle, the creature was created from 7,500 mirror mosaics over polyester on steel armature. In 2006 Bechtler purchased the piece and in 2009 it was installed in the museum plaza.