We’re all familiar with viewing art in the standard gallery setting of white walls and a certain hushed atmosphere, or perhaps in a grand historic building, with vaulted ceilings and gilt frames. Whilst these settings are clearly great places to view art – after all, they wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t – there is a selection of gallery spaces that are a little more unusual. Viewing art in a non-traditional space can be an exciting addition to a piece, or a confusing distraction, but these unusual gallery spaces have struck the balance just right.
The Bellagio, Las Vegas
Whilst the Bellagio is arguably most famous for having one of the best poker rooms in the world, perhaps next only to the Aria which is also in Las Vegas, it is known for something else that’s altogether more unexpected: its art collection. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to this resort to visit the casino each year, but few take the necessary time to appreciate the staggering art that is on display. The Bellagio has hundreds of pieces of art displayed around the resort, but its collection eventually grew too large to display in the public spaces. So, the Bellagio opened its own gallery of fine art, originally by the grand staircase in the conservatory, but after a few years and further growth, it was moved to its new home by the pool promenade. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art now holds exhibitions of incredibly famous works of art in a far smaller space than many will ever get to see them. Past exhibitions have included works by the likes of Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein, and hundreds of others. The Bellagio is certainly not the most unusual on the list for its form, but for its size and the prominence of the works on display. It is worth a visit just to get close to such famous pieces.
The Bower, London
The Bower would probably be considered by many to be a less extravagant setting than the Bellagio. This gallery is tucked away in a public park in a corner of Camberwell… in a public toilet. The toilet had become something of a spot for nefarious activities and was therefore closed to the public. Knowing of the shortage of space in London, and the difficulties publicizing your art as a young artist, gallery founders Louisa Bailey and Joyce Cronin had the genius idea to turn this unused space into an art gallery. The pair have held numerous exhibitions in the space since its opening and all have been met with great enthusiasm. The space is small, but cozy; it allows guests to get close to the pieces on display and is compact enough to allow emerging artists to truly fill a gallery with their own works. Thanks to the gallery’s success, the team has been able to open a cafe and a publication studio in the space. What was once a corner of Brunswick Park that was best avoided has become a hub for creativity.
The Feuerle Collection, Berlin
Whilst the team at The Bower wanted to escape the idea that you’re viewing art in a public toilet, the brains behind The Feuerle Collection wanted to embrace the unusual location of the gallery wholeheartedly. The Feuerle Collection is at home in a converted World War 2 bunker in Kreuzberg, Berlin. A British brain was behind the adaptation of the space into an art gallery, John Pawson. He took a distinctly ‘less is more’ approach to the conversion, allowing almost all of the original features to remain. As a result, the gallery space feels quite cold and intimidating. The huge concrete structure looms over the heads of the guests, and the collection takes on an entirely different quality than it would in a stark white space. The pieces on display here are the private collection of Pawson and are comprised of both ancient and contemporary Asian art. Marble statues appear ghostly against the grey of the walls, and bold contemporary pieces sing against this surprisingly urban background. Sometimes the strangest spaces bring out an extra something in art that we wouldn’t have noticed before, and The Feuerle Collection proves that.