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History Meets Modernity: Cutting-Edge Museum Architecture

Meet the innovative institutions pushing boundaries inside and out.

History Meets Modernity: Cutting-Edge Museum Architecture

From the Abu Dhabi dessert to Rio’s renowned coastline, cities across the world are building museums that look to the future and reflect the growing recognition of cultural institutions as bastions of inclusivity, equality and education.


Louvre, Abu Dhabi

The Louvre is France’s most famous museum and home to the Mona Lisa, among other masterpieces. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, expected to open later in 2016, is the result of a groundbreaking collaboration between the two countries. Hailed as “a universal museum in the Arab world,” the project will also play an important social role in the UAE. The building itself is as ambitious and optimistic as the wider concept. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel, the architecture is minimalist and ultramodern, in shades of light blue and white, with a distinctive broad, shallow dome. Taking aesthetic influence from various religions and cultures to reflect its universalist ideals, the museum sits on Saadiyat Island, a commercial mixed-use area planned as the city state’s cultural hub.




Credit: TDIC, Design: Ateliers Jean Nouvel  // Header: Exterior of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Architect: Ateliers Jean Nouvel © Tourism Development & Investment Company 


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Opened on May 14 after a three-year upgrade, San Francisco’s original San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) building was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. The building has been an icon in the city since construction in the mid-1990s, and the much anticipated extension, by international architects Snøhetta, adds further eclecticism. Designed on the premise that a contemporary museum “must engage with its local conditions and communities in a proactive way,” the expansion, which doubles total exhibition space, seamlessly joins the original building whilst looking completely distinct from it. Uneven white lines create the illusion of movement and indeed the extension opens up new public thorough fares through the SoMa neighbourhood and into the museum itself.



Credit: The new SFMOMA, view from Yerba Buena Gardens; photo: Henrik Kam, courtesy SFMOMA.


Museum of Image and Sound, Rio de Janeiro

A hotly awaited new iteration of Rio’s Museum of Image and Sound (MIS), designed by New York architects diller scofidio + renfro and located along Copacabana Beach, will open later in 2016. Designed to reflect a city in constant motion, the building, despite its angular, futuristic style was conceived to complement the seaside promenade created by the brilliant Brazilian architect Roberto Burle Marx. The museum will house exhibitions and installations that celebrate the rich culture and musical history of the city, across eight floors.



Credit: Museum of Image and Sound by diller scofidio + renfro


National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.

Slated for opening in September 2016, the NMAAHC is a hugely important institution that represents over a century of struggle to see it finally come to fruition.Taking pride of place on D.C.’s celebrated National Mall, the Smithsonian-owned museum is billed as “a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation.” Designed by London and NYC-based architect David Adjaye, who is also responsible for Oslo’s Peace Centre, the building reflects the museum’s goal of transcending cultural and racial boundaries. The distinctive metal facade reflects the design of iron work originally made by enslaved craftsmen from Charleston and New Orleans.



Credit: National Museum of African American History and Culture by Michael R. Barnes

09 / 06 / 2016 // by LigaStudios Team


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