Lounge areas of museums routinely slip into the shadows when it comes to taking in the main event – that is, the paintings and sculptures on display. But the Renzo Piano-designed Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, which is best known for its monumental collection of Calder, Picasso and Matisse sculptures, has taken a decidedly novel tack.

For a new rendition of the classic museum lounge, Nasher director Jeremy Strick reached out to the Naples-born, LA-based artist Piero Golia, who worked in tandem with architect Edwin Chan – formerly of Frank O Gehry Associates – to conjure up an enticing space, filled with top-notch contemporary art.

Only two years ago, Golia unveiled his speakeasy-like gathering space, Chalet Hollywood, that integrated architecture, design and art in a LA storage centre.

‘My idea was to infuse a space with the latest in art, architecture and design to give a salon setting,’ says Golia.  In a nanosecond, the film community showed up. So Golia replicated that model right down to the sharp angle planes of the space with cork floors and an Yves Klein-like blue painted wall, right within the Nasher.

To fill it, Golia called on friends, such as conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe, who created a 3 ft by 5 ft aquarium that Golia describes as an ‘ecosystem of crabs and floating rocks’. Plus there’s an iconic Jeff Wall image and a piano, rumored to have been played by Joseph Beuys.

‘Piero Golia has made a space that defies any easy categorisation – a luxurious retreat, open and available for the enjoyment of every museum visitor, but also a site of carefully considered and executed experiences,’ says Strick.