The Chinati Foundation is a contemporary art museum located at the site of the former Fort D.A. Russell in Marfa, Texas, a small desert town near the Mexico-United States border. Chinati was the creation of artist Donald Judd (1928–1994), who transformed many of the abandoned buildings of the site with the vision of creating permanent installations of his own work and the work of John Chamberlain (1927–2011) and Dan Flavin (1933–1996).
The site had been used as a military base throughout the first half of the twentieth century, but it closed in 1949 after serving as a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. The land was returned to the city of Marfa, and some of the former military buildings were reused, while others were allowed to deteriorate. Judd began to work at the site in 1979, and Chinati opened to the public in 1986 and has since become an international destination. It now houses works by Judd, Chamberlain, Flavin, and other twentieth-century minimalist artists, works that artfully integrate the site's abandoned buildings and stark, boundless natural landscape in their compositions.
Today many of the original structures of the expansive campus are in a deteriorated state, and even routine repairs are becoming complicated for buildings that house precious art. As the reach of the museum has grown, and the impact of Judd's original vision has gained recognition in the art world, so have the duty to recognize Chinati's historical significance and the need to manage change with a view to the site's long-term preservation.
Watch Day 2014
Watch Day at the Chinati Foundation included a sunrise viewing of Donald Judd’s work and a panel discussion about the history, installation and preservation efforts at the site. Locals and visitors attended the day’s programs in Marfa, Texas.