If you have not yet seen the new Parrish Art Museum from the inside, it should be high on your to-do list. The venerable institution has been reborn in a striking new home in Water Mill designed by a renowned Swiss firm. Long and deceptively low-slung in its farm field-like setting, the museum has been called “an unexpected monument” in New York magazine and “a triumph” in Architectural Record.
These are not mere esoteric or academic accolades; from the new Parrish’s early weeks, the public has responded positively, with thousands thronging the opening events and visitors continuing to arrive in solid numbers, according to Terrie Sultan, its director. The soaring interior galleries give the collection’s old favorites a new, welcome, and much-needed airing. There is room, too, for traveling exhibitions and short-term shows.
The Parrish also seems revitalized in terms of programs. This began before the doors formally opened on the 600-foot-long Herzog and de Meuron building. In recent months, talks by members of a broadly defined creative community and the compelling Parrish Road Show of site-specific installations and events this summer were well-attended and created welcome buzz.
In some ways, the remarkable new structure is just a beginning, however. Its ample space and gleaming walls present opportunities for an institution that sees itself at the hub of the region’s visual arts. Where the Parrish has traditionally been strong on the South Fork painters of a century ago, its involvement in the contemporary scene has been less acclaimed. There are scores of painters, sculptors, photographers, ceramicists, and video artists living and working here now; acquiring representative examples of their best work — and making sense of it all — is the Parrish’s challenge now.