All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Jessica K Dallow

Advisory Committee Members

Katherine A McIver

Mindy Nancarrow

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


In May 2003, the Dia:Beacon art museum opened its expansive doors to the public. Viewers were introduced not only to the Dia Art Foundation’s collection of major works from the 1960s to the present but also to a very different type of museum facility. With the help of a multi-million dollar face lift, this once industrial Nabisco factory became an ideal space for art installations. The galleries of Dia:Beacon were specifically designed to accommodate the Foundation’s large-scale collection. In this thesis, I discuss Dia:Beacon’s achievement in museum design and its use of display space by analyzing comparable museums and their exhibitions. This thesis argues that Dia:Beacon is an extremely effective model for museum design as it fosters a conducive viewing space and is tailored to the art it houses, rather than being a generic design. I evaluate two contemporary museums against Dia:Beacon’s model, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Storm King Art Center. These are similar to Dia in terms of the nature of the work displayed – primarily art from the 1960s to the present. By evaluating these three institutions, the difference in display and use of space becomes apparent in each setting and proves the merit of Dia’s paradigm. Chapter 1 begins with an introduction to Dia:Beacon and discusses the history of the Dia Foundation as well as highlights some of its artistic endeavors throughout the years. I also provide background information on the origins and conception of the iii Guggenheim and Storm King including some of the construction issues each underwent. As one site was conceived as a work of art unto itself, the others were imagined to enhance display but not interfere or detract from the art on exhibit. Chapter 2 discusses the idea of space and display within these settings, while Chapter 3 provides the analysis of exhibitions in each space. By evaluating the three sites and comparative exhibitions, Dia’s model for museum design stands out as a highly effective model and conducive viewing space.



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