A Year of Museum Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright, David Chipperfield, Kengo Kuma, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Area-17,

Hufton+Crow, Gianluca Di Ioia, Iwan Baan, Simon Menges, David Heald,

New York, USA, Berlin, Germany, Dundee, Scotland, UK, Doha, Qatar,


Iris Ceramica Group,

A special year for museums, from the 60th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum to the inaugurations that have taken place over the course of the year, including: Kengo Kuma’s V&A Dundee in Scotland, Jean Nouvel’s The Desert Rose National Museum of Qatar, David Chipperfield’s James Simon Galerie in Berlin, plus two museums dedicated to Italian craftsmanship: the Italian Design Museum, which opened in Milan, and the Iris Ceramica Group Museum.

A Year of Museum Architecture

Over the last year, some major museums have opened their doors, such as the V&A Dundee in Scotland by Kengo Kuma, The Desert Rose National Museum of Qatar by Jean Nouvel, and the James Simon Galerie in Berlin by David Chipperfield. Hotly-anticipated projects which were made famous not only thanks to their being designed by important names on the international architecture scene, or their inclusion in major international competitions, but also due to their status as iconic buildings which could create the “Bilbao effect” in other cities. 2019 also marks an important anniversary, namely the 60th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, a true icon of world architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. On the Made in Italy front, recent months have seen the opening of the Italian Design Museum at the Triennale di Milano and the Iris Ceramica Group Museum, the only example of a company museum dedicated to ceramic wall tiles in Italy.
Opened on 23 May 2019, the Iris Ceramica Group Museum was designed by architecture firm Area 17 as part of the redevelopment of the holding company’s historic headquarters in Fiorano Modenese. The museum is part of the Museimpresa network, the Italian association of business museums and archives, and tells the story of a major Italian company, one of values and progress that does an excellent job of representing the industrious district of ceramics for architecture, a significant Made in Italy business.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the first museum in the network of Guggenheim museums scattered around the world, is coming up on sixty years of age, but it would be unfair not to add that it doesn’t look it. A true masterpiece of world architecture designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and opened posthumously on 21 October 1959, a few months after the death of its creator and 10 years after that of the client that commissioned it, Solomon R. Guggenheim. A series of events and exhibitions distributed throughout the year celebrate sixty years of this iconic giant of modern architecture. An architecture that was not immediately met with wide acclaim, but which has stood the test of time by continuing to be a source of inspiration for entire generations of architects.

On 15 September, the V&A Dundee, the first museum of Scottish design, will celebrate its first year since its doors opened. An iconic building inspired by the Scottish cliffs, according to its designer, the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The design draws its iconic strength from the site itself, having been built in a unique location between the water and the city, and representing the restoration of the relationship between Dundee and its maritime history, which is linked to the River Tay.

On 28 March, the new National Museum of Qatar, designed by architect Jean Nouvel, was officially opened. A building inspired by the desert rose, a natural mineral formation typical of the Qatar area. The new building surrounds the historic palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, a national monument and one of the best-loved symbols of the people of Qatar, which becomes the final and culminating element of an immersive journey through the exhibition. The museum allows visitors to travel through the history of Qatar, thanks to a successful combination of the architectural space and experiences that involve the senses with music, poetry, oral narratives and evocative aromas.

On 13 July 2019, the James Simon Galerie, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, was inaugurated. An architecture that plays a dual role, the building serves as the central entrance to Berlin’s Museum Island (Museumsinsel) and performs a series of functions which are necessary to the island’s entire museum system. As a place, it reorganises Museum Island’s relationship with the city and accessibility, tying back together threads interrupted by the destruction of the Second World War and creating new connections and spatial relations.

(Agnese Bifulco)

(1, 9,10) The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York: © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York photo by David Heald
(2-6) Museo Storico Iris Ceramica Group © Iris Ceramica Group
(7-8) Museo del Design Italiano Milano – Italia: © Triennale di Milano, photo by Gianluca Di Ioia
(11-17) V&A Dundee: © V&A Dundee photo by Hufton+Crow
(18-23) National Museum of Qatar, Doha Qatar: © National Museum of Qatar, photo by Iwan Baan
(24-25) James Simon Galerie Berlin: © David Chipperfield Architects, photo by Simon Menges

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