Letter: Museum masterpiece

I have read the seeming deluge of criticism of the wonderful new Aspen Art Museum and feel compelled to write and attempt to redress the balance.

Designed by a recent Pritzker Prize-winning architect — the modest, self-effacing humanitarian Shigeru Ban — it continues the groundbreaking Aspen aesthetic tradition, commenced by Walter Paepcke, that helps makes Aspen the astonishing place it is and why those of us who live here permanently would live nowhere else.

Ban joins the list of illustrious architects who have made a big contribution to Aspen — from the first music tent designed by Eero Saarinen in 1949 (can you imagine the loud voices of dissent when that happened?) and subsequent tents by Herbert Bayer and Harry Teague to the buildings of the Aspen Institute by Bayer and numerous public and residential buildings by Fritz Benedict and work by other notable architects such as Harry Weese, Buckminster Fuller, Victor Lundy, Ellie Brickham, Ellen Harland and Robert Lautner.

It has been an essential component in Aspen’s esteemed history to patronize the arts, and the benefits can be seen and enjoyed every day by everyone. The Aspen Art Museum follows in that great tradition and is a testament to the astonishing vision, determination and generosity of those involved in creating this wonderful building and free public facility. It demonstrates, yet again, why Aspen is simply the best place in the world for those who love the arts in conjunction with the most beautiful scenery in the world.

I urge those who may disagree to reflect on why they choose to live in or visit Aspen and to recognize that it is precisely because of innovation such as this that many of us (less vociferous) remain excited every day by what Aspen has to offer on all levels.

A short time spent in this serene and tranquil building enjoying the art lifts the spirits — and there’s something for everyone. If time is short, just take the staircase to the top floor for a coffee and a fabulous view of Ajax Mountain — who could ask for more?

It really is a unique privilege for us who live here to have this wonderful building in the heart of downtown Aspen available to all. We should be grateful to those who enabled this to become a reality.

Nick Heath