Story By: Edward Callaghan

Kenneth P. LaValle With Parrish Founding Partner Robert S. Warshaw, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Parrish Trustee Phillip H. Isles, Parrish Trustee Norman L. Peck, Governor David A Patterson, Parrish Director Terrie Sultan, Congressman Timothy H. Bishop And Parrish Founding Partner Carolina Portago

The Parrish Art Museum began construction this week on its new Herzog & de Meuron designed building in Water Mill, in the Town of Southampton. Slated to open in 2012, the new Parrish is the first art museum to be built on the East End of Long Island in more than a century and will be the cultural centerpiece and most recognizable architectural landmark of the region.

“This will be a watershed moment not only for the Museum, but also for the community. The new Parrish will offer the entire region and beyond expanded opportunities for seeing, experiencing, and learning about art through our collection of more than 2,600 works, and temporary exhibitions,” noted Parrish Director Terrie Sultan. “With this new building, the Parrish will take its rightful place as a major museum and a center for cultural engagement.”

The Museum hosted a groundbreaking media conference at the new site at 279 Montauk Highway, Watermill, New York on Monday, July 19, 2010 to officially mark the commencement of construction. Governor of New York, David A. Paterson, who gave the first speech remarked: “Today we are breaking ground on a new era for the Parrish Art Museum, and adding a new thread to our state’s cultural tapestry. I’m confident that

it will be a guiding light for future artists whose work will inspire us to think and to feel the way that only great art truly can.”

Other speakers included Tim Bishop, Congressman, New York’s First Congressional District; Anna Throne-Holst, Supervisor, Town of Southampton; Terrie Sultan, Director of the Parrish Art Museum; Norman Peck, Treasurer of Parrish, President of the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation; Dorothy Lichtenstein, Trustee and Secretary of the Parrish Board of Trustees; and, Alexandra Stanton, Vice President, Parrish Board of Trustees.

Located on the north side of Montauk Highway and designed by the world-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron, the new Parrish is a horizontal structure nestled discreetly in the landscape. Consisting of two parallel wings joined by a central circulation spine running the length of the building, the new facility will be nearly twice the size of the existing Museum.

The 34,500 square-foot Museum will feature more than 12,000 square feet of pristine and flexible gallery spaces with some 4,500 square feet for special exhibitions and 7,500 dedicated to installations of the Museum’s important permanent collection. A series of north-facing skylights will allow for natural, north light to be evenly filtered throughout the galleries. “The galleries are the heart and soul of the new Museum,” according to Alicia Longwell, Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, Art and Education. “Now, for the first time, the Parrish will have the wherewithal to make available on a permanent basis our distinguished collection of American art from the nineteenth century to the present, while simultaneously presenting special exhibitions.”

The Museum will also include educational and multi-purpose spaces, a generous and light filled lobby, a shop, and a café. The design incorporates administrative offices and onsite space for storage and care of the permanent collection. The exterior walls of poured-inplace concrete are deeply recessed under a long and elegant white corrugated metal roof and incorporate opportunities for views through the Museum and into the surrounding landscape. Covered porches and terraces will provide additional opportunities for enjoyment of the setting.

“We are excited to offer the Long Island community in two years from now, a generous sequence of northern lit galleries invoking the spirit of the East End artists’ studio. A continuous gathering porch will unify the entire Museum under one roof creating a new building type that connotes the vernacular of local farm buildings." noted Ascan Mergenthaler, Senior Partner, Herzog & de Meuron.

Like the building itself which resembles the old potato barns that dotted the East End landscape for centuries, the landscape will evoke the heritage of the East End. The site will be reshaped into a meadow with grasses and native wildflowers, rising toward an oak and birch woodland at the northern boundary.

A special feature of the new design is the creation of public areas for contemplation and social interaction. Conceived as a single, integrated work, the architecture and landscape will offer the public a unified and cohesive experience year-round. “Since artists first traveled to the East End in the nineteenth century to paint outdoors, art, and nature have been intertwined here,” said Parrish Trustee Dorothy Lichtenstein widow of the late acclaimed artist Roy Lichtenstein. “The architects’ vision expresses the interconnectedness, from galleries whose proportions and natural light reference artist studios, to porches, terraces, and window walls that connect the interior of the building to the landscape outside.”

The Parrish Art Museum’s building campaign has raised almost 70% of the funds needed to reach the goal of $25 million. As the Parrish moves forward with construction, it continues to receive strong support. Many of the country’s leading arts and culture philanthropists have made Founding Partners gifts to the Capital Campaign, including: Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller; Norman and Liliane Peck and The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation; the Carroll Petrie Foundation; The Harriet and Esteban Vicente Foundation; The Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc.; Dorothy Lichtenstein; Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder; Mildred C. Brinn; Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation; Lynne and Richard Pasculano; Susan Weber; Dan K. Wassong and David K. Wassong; Agnes Gund (in honor of Dorothy Lichtenstein); Charlotte Moss and Barry Friedberg; Ira and Gale Drukier; The Bacon Family; Meryl and Charles Witmer; Stacey and Eric Mindich and an anonymous donor. Continued fundraising efforts are being supported by the Board of Trustees and numerous individuals, demonstrating the broad-based support the Museum enjoys. Members of the Board provide leadership in the completion of the Museum’s capital campaign and serve as advocates for the Parrish, raising awareness of the important role the Museum plays in the culture of the East End community, the region, and a broader national and international audience.

“The groundbreaking marks the next step in the incredible journey of the Parrish Art Museum which began more than 100 years ago,” noted Parrish Board Co-chair Carlo Bronzini Vender. Board Co-chair Douglas Polley added, “The Parrish is fortunate to have the support of so many notable members of both the East End and New York City communities who have wholeheartedly embraced the project and committed deeply to the future of the Museum. In spite of the economic challenges of the past year, we are well situated to move forward with this magnificent project, creating a major center for art on Long Island’s East End.”

About the Parrish Art Museum

The Parrish Art Museum celebrates the artistic legacy of Long Island’s East End, one of America’s most vital creative centers so close to the art center of New York City yet worlds away. For more than a century the Parrish has resided in the small jewel box structure in the Village of Southampton, designed by Grosvenor Atterbury to house the private collection of Samuel Longstreth Parrish. Since the mid 1950s the Museum has grown and changed from a small village art gallery into an important art museum with a collection of more than 2,600 works of art by contemporary painters and sculptors such as John Chamberlain, Chuck Close, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Elizabeth Peyton, as well as such masters as Dan Flavin, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Willem de Kooning.

The Parrish houses one of the world’s most important collections of works by the preeminent American Impressionist William Merritt Chase, and by the groundbreaking Post-war American realist painter, Fairfield Porter. The Parrish is a vital cultural resource serving a diverse audience, organizing and presenting exhibitions to make a broad range of art available to the community. The Museum offers a dynamic schedule of creative and engaging public programs including lectures, films, performances, concerts, and studio classes for all ages. For more information, please visit

Currently on view: Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings, 1972–2008, through August 8, 2010; followed by Underground Pop, August 15–October 3, 2010.

Photo By: Richard Lewin