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Flashcards in Scholar: Museums Deck (10)
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Arcadia and Antiquity

  • during 2nd half of C18 design competitions frequently set to find plans for new buildings > public museum a frequently set task in design competitions

  • 1763: George Dance won Parma Academy gold medal for design for public gallery displaying statues and pictures >> Dance presented a richly decorated exterior with a colonnade and free-standing sculptures on the roof.

  • Dance: The sumptuous interiors were dominated by a sequence of large and small domed galleries. By the end of the decade, he had also designed the notorious Newgate Prison in London. Since neither building type had any precedents, Dance drew on the first-hand knowledge of antiquity that he had acquired during his time in Italy

  • Both designs inspired by specific Roman examples > gallery’s massing and detailing were based on the Baths of Caracalla; the prison’s facade derived from the impressively rusticated wall that enclosed the forum of Nerva




  • 1815: Leo Von Klenze won the competition to build a museum of sculpture, the Glyptothek, in a recently laid-out suburb of Bavaria’s growing capital 

  • building based on Durand’s ideal design

  • retained 4 wings of equal length but omitted the Greek cross and central rotunda - main entrance was accentuated with a pedimented portico of eight Ionic columns

  • Glyptothek’s classicism was intended to reflect the collection’s impressive holdings of genuine Greek antiquities

  • On entering the museum, the visitor turned left and passed through the galleries in which the history of sculpture unfolded in chronological sequence: ancient Egypt, Greece, the Roman Empire, and works by contemporary artists




  • 1800: Schinkel presented important visual of the museum —- situated the classical building – complete with temple- like portico and domed rotunda rupturing the roofline – in an antique land- scape, which was peopled with classically draped figures and dotted with monuments and further classical buildings

  • museum-building boom of the second half of the nineteenth century was part of the transformation most major cities witnessed

  • Railway stations became the city’s new portals, replacing traditional gates and toll barriers. The exposed glass-and-iron construction of the impressive sheds was a testimony to the age of mass transport and industrial production.


South Kensington Museum

  • founded as a direct result of the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the Crystal Palace, and it served as a sample collection for artisans and designers to inspire contemporary production

  • the so-called Brompton Boilers erected in 1856, would have been inconceivable as museum spaces prior to the Great Exhibition of 1851

  • Brompton Boilers: unadorned appearance was partly dictated by economy and partly by an unspoken sense of modernity expressed in buildings such as the Crystal Palace

  • Museum architecture responding to increasing need for crowd control > atrium design, with encircling galleries that defined the architecture of the department store, first appeared in exhibition building and prisons



Natural History Museum

  • Natural History Museum, 1881: design started by Francis Fowke but taken over by Alfred Waterhouse in 1865

  • AW made significant changes to the design —-  replaced the Renaissance style with the Romanesque (allowed more scope for figurative decoration) 

  • e.g: arched portal and huge flanking towers in main entrance evoked the great examples of Romanesque ecclesiastical architecture - taken further in a spectacular entrance hall that stretched into the distance like the main nave of a cathedral

  • The architecture of the museum continued to be symbolically resonant: the secularised cathedral setting celebrated the wonders of the natural world while simultaneously allowing conventional Christian and modern scientific readings

  • end of C19: the museum had been established as an indispensable urban building type > museum had become an emblem not only of culture but also of nation and increasingly of industrial prowess and modernity



Museum of Tomorrow

  • Clarence Stein, 1929: never built - design captured 2 important issues (left behind the classical temple style seen previously, looked towards latest architectural evocation of modernity- the skyscraper)

  • At the core of the massive structure stood a central tower surrounded by display galleries on seven levels. This stepped massing made the elevation less soaring and gave the building the gravitas of a Gothic cathedral.

  • ground-floor plan combined several earlier con- figurations of the museum. Into the octagonal layout, eight wings were inscribed which radiated from the central information space

  • scheme thus combined Durand’s classic layout – central rotunda and Greek cross inscribed into a square of galleries – with the typical formation of early reform prisons, in which a flexible number of wings radiated from a central surveillance space 

  • Steins design of important innovation - galleries were divided into those of interest to a general visitor and those housing reserve and study collections



  • It introduced American audiences to a wide range of European avant-garde movements, including functionalist architectural design inspired by the Bauhaus

  • MoMA promoted an understanding of modernism across a range of disciplines such as painting, sculpture, print media, film, photography, architecture, and design

  • permanent building into which MoMA finally moved in 1939 was in fact its prime exhibit

  • Permanent building > entrance gently receded, drawing visitor into the main lobby >> industrial materials, horizontal window bands, and vertical lettering that identified the institution, the facade presented a departure from traditional museum architecture

  • dedication to the contemporary was reflected in the diverse exhibition program and ever- changing collections. This required display spaces of unprecedented flexibility

  • open-plan space could be subdivided with partitions according to the specific needs of each exhibition

  •  new display aesthetic: which Brian O’Doherty has called the white cube: spaces that aimed to focus attention on the individual work of art

  • White Cube: works are hung in a single line at a respectable distance from each other > became the normative form of display for most of C20




  • During the 1970s, an anti- museum movement began to challenge this allegedly neutral environment

  • alternative spaces provided opportunities for artists to experiment and escape the overt commercialisation of their work

  •  P.S.1: contemporary art centre located in a former school in New York City’s borough of Queens > Most influential alternative space

  • the flair of the abandoned informs the display spaces, which retain a degree of makeshift immediacy absent from the over aestheticised museum environment



  • museum began to reclaim its historical roots

  • James Stirling reinterpreted the archetypal layout of Schinkel’s Altes Museum: the traditional sequence of galleries and the central rotunda

  • Stirling Altes Museum: Pink and blue oversized railings flank the ramped approach; the main front refracts and fragments any reflections; and the entrance is bright red and off-centre 

  • Stirling Altes Interior: main lobby exudes the functional atmosphere of an airport lounge, which is accentuated by the grass-green floor and the colourful high-tech lifts, reminiscent of the Centre Pompidou

  • Stirling Altes Interior: display galleries are arranged in a processional route and draw on the “white cube” aesthetic, which, however, they modulate through adding historicised detailing



Bilbao Guggenheim

  • opened 1997, functioned as an urban landmark and global indicator 

  • Not only did it anchor a whole new cultural precinct designed to rejuvenate the Basque capital and post- industrial port town, but it also sought to attract global interest

  • city’s facelift included a new subway system and an airport expansion, which was instrumental in making it a low-budget airline destination

  • Such combined policies helped put Bilbao firmly on the map of cultural tourism