Shigeru Ban, architect, Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Aspen Art Museum director, Cai Guo-Qiang, artist.

August 02, 2014 @ Aspen Art Museum

Colorado's Aspen Art Museum celebrated its new $45-million, 33,000-square-foot Shigeru Ban-designed building this weekend, and raised $3 million over the four days of its 10th annual ArtCrush summer benefit (July 30-Aug. 1).

The festivities started with Wednesday night's reception and dinner for art and wine lovers at the home of collectors Amy and John Phelan. Thursday evening saw preview receptions for artworks, by artists such as Ryan Gander, Ugo Rondinone and Mickalene Thomas, on offer to benefit the museum at Baldwin Gallery and Casterline|Goodman Gallery; Friday night was the ArtCrush dinner and auction, as well as the presentation of the honorary Aspen Art Award to Ernesto Neto.

"ArtCrush is our largest fundraiser of the year," event chair Amy Phelan told A.i.A. "It provides a platform for artists, collectors and dealers, and a chance for our patrons from all over the world to get together and see new exhibitions at the museum while supporting it."

Designed by Ban, the Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect, the new museum features galleries with 14-foot ceilings on three levels, and, on the roof, a sculpture garden and restaurant. A grand stair takes visitors to the top floor, from which they descend to the galleries—a metaphor for skiing down the nearby slopes. There's also a large glass elevator that lets visitors enjoy the view while ascending, and a woven wood exterior skin that keeps the interior spaces cool and the light diffused.

After Saturday's ribbon-cutting with Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Cai Guo-Qiang's firework performance Black Lightning lit up Aspen Mountain with black puffs of smoke that formed a lightning bolt.

Inaugural exhibitions at the museum, which opens to the public Aug. 9, include solos by Ban, Tomma Abts, Cai Guo-Qiang, Jim Hodges and Rosemarie Trockel, along with a show that pairs David Hammons and Yves Klein to explore aesthetic commonalities between two varied practices.

"Our goal has been to change from being a museum in a destination to being a destination museum," Zuckerman Jacobson told A.i.A. "The opening exhibitions reveal the range of our interests and show what we can do. Art can be many things to us and for us, and I want our shows to say that to the community."

Photos by Paul Laster.