For the past several decades, museums have been the preferred field of expression for some of the world’s greatest architects. KAZoART has rounded up a selection of 10 museums across the globe whose incredible architecture rivals the works found therein. As we all count down the days until we can travel again, why not start planning your next artistic vacation?
1. The Georges Pompidou Centre of Art and Culture in Paris, France
Inaugurated in 1977, the centre is also known as Beaubourg. Its conception was a highly-contested project amongst architects. Previously known as the “Art Hangar” or “Notre Dame de la Tuyauterie”, the building owes its surprising construction to Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini.
The latter wanted to highlight elements that are otherwise hidden such as technical equipment and pipes. And then they established a colour code: blue for air circulation, yellow for electrical currents, green for water flow and red for the comings and goings of people.
2. The Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain
Contemporary art lovers will know it well – the Guggenheim is a must for anyone visiting Bilbao. We owe this incredible building to Frank Gehry, a North American architect who wanted the museum itself to be a stand-alone work of art.
At the top, it takes on a petal shape that overlooks the Atrium, a defining space in the museum. A wonderful example of avant-garde architecture, Lehry is known as one of the greatest architects of his generation.
3. The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada
Originally housed in a 19th century building, the Royal Ontario Museum was expanded in 2007 with the construction of a new, particularly modern wing. Isn’t the contrast striking?!
We owe this extension to architect Daniel Libeskind. He succeeded in combining the stones and bricks of the old building with glass and steel. Giant crystals rise from the façade and transform the museum into a space of luminescence and fortified light.
4. The Soumaya Museum in Mexico City – Mexico
What an architectural and technological feat the Soumaya Museum is! Led by architect Fernando Romero, the gigantic project consists of a huge asymmetrical cube on which thousands of metallic hexagons shine in the sunlight. Inaugurated in 2011, the museum radically breaks with tradition. However, its eclectic exterior is in keeping with the diverse collections housed in the interior.
5. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Niterói, Brazil
A flying saucer! Well, almost. This futuristic structure owes its existence to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who saw it as “a flower”. Opened in 1996, the museum rests on a cliff opposite of Rio de Janeiro and ends on the sand. The view from the top? Nothing less than striking.
6. The Kunsthaus Graz in Austria
To celebrate Graz’s designation as the European Capital of Culture, architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier created a building in 2003 that they nicknamed the “friendly alien”. In the heart of the 19th century Baroque suburbs, the building and its “technoid” appearance is similar to a caterpillar or an enormous liver.
The nozzles at the top allow light to enter the upper galleries of the museum. Kunsthaus’s special feature is that its façade serves as a support for artistic creations: there are 925 fluorescent tubes that convey messages and images.
7. The Ordos Museum in China
Signed by the architectural firm, MAD, the Ordos Museum is an a desert landscape that gives the impression that it hovers over the hill upon which it rests. By its rounded shape, the building echoes the movement of sand in a desire to convey society’s renewed willingness to unite urban and traditional culture.
The metal panels make up the façade and protect the museum during the harsh winter months and of course, from sandstorms.
8. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas, USA
This museum is a work of modern art in its own right. Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, it is a no-frills, minimalist structure that rises over a body of water. Five solid concrete pavilions make up the building’s structure while their flat roofs reinforce the idea of purity in form.
The genius in this project lies in its reflection in the water. It’s almost as if it was floating. A real play with light allows for the museum to maintain its intriguing facade.
9. Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Here sits a museum of a highly complex structure. Opened in 2011, it is located directly on the waterfront. Triangular glass panels form part of the façade and blend in with the thick concrete walls.
The architect Yann Weymouth is at the heart of this two-year-long architectural project. In homage to Dali, the museum’s convex shape echoes his bizarrely pleasing surrealist works.
10. The Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
It is not yet finished but from the images of the Foster+Partners project, the Zayed Museum in Abu Dhabi promises to be nothing less than spectacular. Its steel structures rise up to 124 metres above the suspended gallery spaces.
Ingeniously designed, these structures will look like falcon feathers and serve as air-capturing chimneys that will channel fresh air inside and keep the museum’s interior at just the right temperature. This futuristic building was expected to be finished in 2017 but was only opened in 2020.
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