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Celebrating I.M.Pei in FILM: A Place To Be

The film, A Place To Be, was a monumental commission that took ten years to complete. It gives an intimate view behind the scenes of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art's remarkable design and the art created for its public spaces. Beginning with the initial sketches by the internationally acclaimed architect I.M. Pei, the film then offers a rare glimpse into the minds of museum director J. Carter Brown and the distinguished artists Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Robert Motherwell, and Jean Dubuffet.  There is extensive footage of unique elements of the building including the coffer form work and concrete pours and the tetrahedron skylight structure.

The film was produced in 1979 by Guggenheim Productions INC for WETA Washington, DC, with the cooperation of The National Gallery of Art.

Run Time: 55 minutes

Presented by: Donna Kirk, AIA

Donna Kirk, AIA is a licensed architect and has worked in the Design Office at the NGA for over thirty years. She works closely with Chief of Design Mark Leithauser on the planning and installation of all temporary and permanent exhibitions.  She is an Adjunct Faculty at the GW/Corcoran College of Art. She is a member of AIA|DC.


At the completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the origins of the design of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art;

  • Summarize the unique design and construction features of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art;

  • Identify the engineering challenges facing the fabrication of the monumental Alexander Calder in the atrium; and

  • Understand the immense complexity of the project.