When we have something precious to keep, we usually find a very precious container. We put it in a safe place and enjoy watching it from time to time. However, some of us end up appreciating the container more than what it contains, right?
A museum is a space that conserves a collection of artifacts.
Therefore, a museum is a container.
Sometime ago, I published 17 Architecturally Amazing Fashion Stores in which I explained how retail architecture was somehow a container of art too. Visuals play an important role here, light and color change our perception of space, movement and even time. Items displayed are supposed to be the main characters in this game, but not in these cases I’m afraid. These buildings speak for themselves as unique art pieces.
My favorite is #1, yours?
1. ABC Museum
Location: Madrid (Spain)
Architect: Aranguren & Gallegos Architects
Description: Probably one of my favorite spots in my dear Madrid, the new ABC Center of Drawing and Illustration, comes with a willingness to be an artistic international reference and a cultural symbol. The installation in the old factory building in Amaniel Street has to be a suitable intervention in a historic building without sacrificing the character of expressing a contemporary center with a diverse range of cultural and artistic institutions. Read more here.
2. Sifang Art Museum
Location: Nanjing (China)
Architect: Steven Holl Architects
Description: This absolutely amazing museum is located at the gateway to the Contemporary International Practical Exhibition of Architecture in the lush green landscape of the Pearl Spring near Nanjing. It explores the shifting viewpoints, layers of space, and expanses of mist and water, which characterize the deep alternating spatial mysteries of early Chinese painting. The exterior staircase it’s a piece of art itself. Read more here.
3. Tchoban Foundation – Museum for Architectural Drawing
Location: Berlin (Germany)
Architect: SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov
Description: This building is very special because the architect, and passionate collector Tchoban, has finally realized his dream to create the ideal setting for architectural drawings. The Museum for Architectural Drawing is an exceptional example of contemporary architecture in its construction, design and choice of materials. The powerful expression of its formal language cannot be overlooked though it still responds sensitively to its surroundings. Read more here.
4. Soumaya Museum
Location: Mexico City (Mexico)
Architect: LAR + Fernando Romero
Description: The museum’s distinct shape and strong presence represents its sculptural concept. A skin of 16 000 hexagonal tiles of mirrored steel, references the traditional colonial ceramic-tiled building facades and gives the museum a diverse appearance depending on the weather and the viewer’s vantage point, while optimizing the preservation and durability of the entire building. Read more here.
5. Centre Pompidou-Metz
Location: Metz (France)
Architect: Shigeru Ban Architects
Description: Although the strategy of this museum was to create sculptural architecture in an internationally unknown city to draw tourism, it has a strong connection to the site. To establish contextual continuation with the city, the large picture windows at the ends of the three gallery tubes frame views to the city’s monuments. For instance, the picture window of the uppermost Gallery Tube 3 frames the view to the cathedral, the symbol of Metz. Read more here.
6. Jewish Contemporary Museum
Location: San Francisco (USA)
Architect: Daniel Libeskind
Description: This remodelation of an old power plant adjacent to the Yerba Buena park is an ode to dialogue, inserting its angled, glowing blue steel-clad structure within the historic red brick power plant from the 19th century. The panels change color depending on the time of day, the weather, and the viewer’s position, creating a dynamic, living surface. Read more here.
7. Memory Museum
Location: Santiago de Chile (Chile)
Architect: Estudio America
Description: I was very lucky to have a chance to visit this museum right after it opened its doors. Its magnificent architecture is based on a pure volume, on which every effort has been put into the structure, cantilevering between two ponds on which a line of shadow on the base make the volume gravitate. Finishes are simple, with no pretension. Read more here.
8. MAXXI Museum
Location: Rome (Italy)
Architect: Zaha Hadid
Description: The Museum of Arts of the XXI century took ten years to get built. As declared by the architect, the museum is ‘not a object-container, but rather a campus for art’, where flows and pathways overlap and connect in order to create a dynamic and interactive space which brought out the question if the concept of de-constructed fluidity matched with the identity of a “static” city as Rome, and with its classical heritage. Read more here. Read more here.
9. Ningbo History Museum
Location: Ningbo (China)
Architect: Wang Shu
Description: Fragments of Chinese history are conserved in the facades of this building conceived as a kind of artificial mountain. The Ningbo Museum sits on a massive unpopulated plaza in Yinzhou, a district in the city of Ningbo with a 5,000-year history that looks like it was established last year. In the distance, the silhouettes of newly built residential towers and half-finished office buildings imply a bustling future, but for the moment the area exists in a kind of temporal limbo – its past abandoned, its future not yet arrived. Read more here.
10. Fashion and Textile Museum
Location: London (UK)
Architect: Ricardo Legorreta
Description: The museum was founded by the famous British fashion and textile designer Zandra Rhodes, who is noted for her extremely colourful work. The building started life in the 1950s as a garage, and the late Ricardo Legorreta, a Mexican architect also known for his use of colour, was commissioned to design the conversion. It is one of his few works outside the American continent. Read more here.
11. Aga Khan Museum
Location: Toronto (Canada)
Architect: Fumihiko Maki
Description: Toronto’s cultural brand has moved into a new galaxy. After four years of construction, the Aga Khan Museum, designed by Pritzker Prize–winner Fumihiko Maki, opens its doors. Despite the austerity of its exterior, hexagonal skylights cast delicately patterned shadows into the interior’s permanent gallery on the museum’s ground floor and temporary galleries on the second. Read more here.
12. New Art Museum
Location: New York (USA)
Description: This museum is a classic, even a cliché. Ok architects get over it, this building is amazing. The location context, Lower Manhattan, with its squared blocks and buildings, can be considered as starting point for the Museum image: it replies the boxes surrounding, and stacks them one on top of the other in various sizes and heights, as the plot was a playground for a composition of cubes. By small but significant shifting of the cubes, the building gets dynamic and an attracting shape, being different but similar to the near constructions. Read more here.
13. Maritime Museum of Denmark
Location: Helsingør (Denmark)
Description: The Danish Maritime Museum had to find its place in a unique historic and spatial context; between one of Denmark’s most important and famous buildings and a new, ambitious cultural centre. Leaving the 60-year-old dock walls untouched, the galleries are placed below ground and arranged in a continuous loop around the dry dock walls – making the dock the centerpiece of the exhibition – an open, outdoor area where visitors experience the scale of ship building. Read more here.
14. Perez Art Museum Miami + Miami Science Museum
Location: Miami (USA)
Architect: Herzog & deMeuron
Description: Recently opened, this building is the new home to a growing collection of international artwork by some of the world’s foremost artists. A cantilevered canopy creates a series of outdoor spaces connecting the museum with the adjacent park, and offers generous views over Biscayne bay. This is another successful project by the amazing Swiss architects. Read more here.
15. Aspen Art Museum
Location: Aspen (USA)
Architect: Shigeru Ban
Description: Ban’s vision for the new AAM is based on transparency and open view planes—inviting those outside to engage with the building’s interior, and providing those inside the opportunity to see their exterior surroundings. The Grand Stair—a three-level passageway between the building’s woven exterior screen and its interior structure—is intersected by a glass wall dividing it into a ten-foot-wide exterior space and a six-foot-wide interior space making a beautiful exterior-interior transition. Read more here.
16. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Location: Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Architect: Benthem Crouwel Architects
Description: The existing building of the Stedelijk Museum created in 1895 by the municipal architect A.W. Weismann, is celebrated for its majestic staircase, grand rooms and natural lighting. The new extension does not ask for more of the same, but to supplement by variety and by adding new opportunities for exhibitions. The old remains and forms unity with the new. Read more here.
Location: Panama City (Panama)
Architect: Gehry and Partners
Description: This atypical, in terms of color, museum is located at at privileged location. The colourful design is intended to represent the narrow land mass now known as Panama rising out of the sea to unite the drifting continents of north and south America three million years ago. Although the museum makes sense to me, I wonder how many times is Gehry going to repeat his building(s). Read more here.