During his fifty years as an art dealer Ernst Beyeler was constantly collecting art. In time, this required him to make provisions for the future of his pictures and sculptures. The most obvious solution would have been to bequest the works to the Kunstmuseum Basel. However, when the government of the canton Basel City put forward suggestions for a new home for the collection, it soon became apparent that none of these locations could do justice to the works of art. So the foundation was launched and with it came the idea of building a museum specifically to house the collection. Ernst Beyeler was excited by the vision of combining groups of works by major artists from the last hundred years with sculptures from Africa and Oceania in a compatible setting. However, this setting had yet to be created. Having been highly impressed by the work of Renzo Piano, who designed the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Menil Collection in Houston, he commissioned the acclaimed Italian architect without competition to design the new museum.