The Scaife Galleries were designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes
in 1974, as part of a major new wing that significantly expanded the footprint
of the 1895 and 1907 Carnegie Institute buildings. Barnes sought to make the
new galleries a space of quiet contemplation:
“Within the galleries every effort is made to display the
paintings in quiet white spaces where the architecture does not compete or
distract. The off-white floors and walls act as a light box, wherein the
contrast between plates tends to disappear, and there is a maximum of reflected
light…for most of the galleries…it is daylight glowing in the day and darkening
in the evening and changing gently with passing cloud shadows, that defines the
space. Perhaps no other new museum in the country is planned to show painting
so dominantly in the soft light of the changing sky.” Although the galleries have undergone many changes since
1974—including renovations in 1994, 2003, 2012, and 2013—the spirit of Barnes’s
vision remains intact.
In 2012, four galleries of 19th-century art were renovated to highlight masterworks and emphasize the unique history of the collection. New interpretive texts and hands-on interactives were developed to connect audiences to the work on view. In 2013, the galleries of art after 1945 were renovated as a component of the 2013 Carnegie International (the full exhibition opens October 5, 2013). Installed by the International curators, the galleries feature important acquisitions from past Carnegie International exhibitions and examine their place in the major art movements of the last 90 years.