The Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery is an instrument for art

Drive-by Art

The Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery is an instrument for art

The 67 steel blades in front of the gallery can only be read as a whole from a distance. (Joshua White)

The Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, is a car-centric experience, inside and out.

Not only has the 6,800-square-foot indoor-outdoor exhibition space been designed by Darin Johnstone Architects to function as a “state-of-the-art automotive and fine art gallery,” it is also perhaps best experienced from the seat of a car.

The gallery fronts the street with a 12-foot-tall supergraphic undulating fin wall made up of 67 steel blades that can only be read from a distance. Depending on the viewer’s direction of travel, the fins spell out either Mullin or Gallery, an optical effect that allows passing automobiles to become “an instrument for viewing art,” according to the architect.

The front entrance to an art gallery
The Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery viewed head-on through its slats. (Joshua White)

Cars take prominence inside the gallery, as well, which has been designed to showcase the patrons’ eclectic antique automobile collection. To facilitate the flow of vintage cars in and out of the space, it features car-width sliding glass doors. The long, linear interior is framed by semicircular walls and curbs whose geometries correspond to the turning radii of modern cars. After an inaugural coupe-heavy show, the space will live on as an art venue for student work and traveling exhibitions.

1111 South Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena, California 9110
Darin Johnstone Architects