The Chinati Foundation Announces Spring Reopening of John Chamberlain Building

by Jessica Fuentes March 4, 2022

The Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum created by artist Donald Judd in Marfa, Texas, has announced the spring 2022 reopening of the organization’s John Chamberlain Building.

The building, which opened in 1983, was the first permanent installation by an artist that Mr. Judd opened to the public in Marfa. To create the space, he joined what was originally three separate warehouses into one large open space, which is filled with natural light. Together with John Chamberlain, Mr. Judd curated the space with twenty-three of Mr. Chamberlain’s large-scale sculptures, culminating in the largest permanent installation of the artist’s works.

A photograph of the exterior of the John Chamberlain building with scaffolding.

Chamberlain Building under construction, 2021-22. Photo by Sarah Vasquez.

Last year, the John Chamberlain Building was closed for facility restoration and artwork conservation. The Chinati Foundation partnered with JC Stoddard Construction, a company that has extensive experience restoring historic structures throughout Texas, including the Alamo. The architects Schaum/Shieh were also part of the restoration process. The work on the building not only addressed structural problems like its metal roof and skylights, but also included the addition of ramps, making the space compliant with ADA standards for accessible design.

A map of the recommended Central Marfa Historic District. The map shows the border of the area and indicates the nine buildings that are associated with Donald Judd.

Central Marfa Historic District Map from the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. Dated December 1, 2021

Earlier this year, the Central Marfa Historic District was recommended for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The district centers on downtown Marfa and is comprised of buildings associated with both the Chinati Foundation and the Judd Foundation, including Mr. Judd’s workshops and living spaces. 

To this end, the Chinati Foundation and the Judd Foundation released a joint statement, which read in part, “Our organizations supported the research and development of the nomination as related to Donald Judd and our spaces, building on the current historic designations for Fort D.A. Russell, which includes much of Chinati Foundation, as well as Judd’s home and studio, the Block.”

In a press release announcing the reopening, the Chinati’s 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.”

A photograph of the interior of the John Chamberlain Building during renovation. The image shows three figures wearing hardhats and working in the space.

Chamberlain Building under construction, 2021-22. Photo courtesy of the Chinati Foundation.

The restoration of the John Chamberlain Building is the first step in a multi-year plan established by Chinati in 2017 to address the organization’s needs, including conservation, restoration, land preservation, and other improvements. The building is set to reopen on Saturday, April 30, 2022 with a community event. In celebration of the reopening, admission to the building will be free throughout 2022.

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