Light in Nature: Fisher Island House

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Inside the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), the light of day and lush surrounding fields have a presence unusual in institutional galleries for art. Overhead, hundreds of elliptical oculi in long parallel vaults bathe the museum interior in even, full-spectrum daylight, modulated by layers that filter out damaging rays. In this gently luminous setting, against pure white walls, the art - including a masterful Giotto altarpiece - takes on heightened immediacy and vividness. A departure from traditional hierarchies, the museum is, in some respects, a single 65,000-square-foot room. Within this spatial continuum, a succession of wall planes, many freestanding without reaching the ceiling, delineate separate galleries. Instead of fully enclosed rooms, each gallery has at least one open corner, inviting fluid movement.