Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a Member »

Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.

The proposed design for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum (via Lucas Cultural Arts Museum)

Filmmaker George Lucas’ plan for a Beaux Arts-style art museum for the Bay Area is under the scrutiny of the public this week through the Presidio Trust, which will determine whether his dream of a museum where the digital arts meet the history of illustration will be there or if he’ll relocate it to Chicago. That last spiteful move is in response to the conflict he’s already had in trying to get through the Presidio Trust for his museum, for which he’s up for giving $700 million of his own funds. As he told the New York Times: “They made us jump through hoops to explain why a museum was worth having. […] I thought a museum was a concept that people already bought into about 200 years ago. They’re having us do as much work as we can hoping that we will give up.”

Whether or not the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum makes it through the drama, it’s one of several American art museums on the horizon. Here are five more that have made it through the obstacles of committees, construction, and community and are finally (more or less) set to open in the imminent future. And if one thing is certain in the face of these impending openings, it’s that veils and canopies and porous space are definitely in for art museums. Some of the tension against Lucas’ proposed museum has been its extremely classical design. Perhaps all he needs to do is embrace the futurism that defined his best cinema work for a more ready local reception. A shredded Death Star certainly wouldn’t look too out-of-place in the realm of current design.

*   *   *

Aspen Art Museum

Design by Shigeru Ban for the new Aspen Art Museum (via Aspen Art Museum)

Set to open in August of 2014, the new Aspen Art Museum designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban promises to be an airy counterpart to the repurposed power plant where the museum has operated since it opened in 1979. Ban just completed the much more visible, and less subdued, Centre Pompidou-Metz, and while his first American art museum has his usual embrace of lattices and light, it is aiming to have a unique relationship with the surrounding landscape of mountains throughout its four stories and 30,000 square feet. As he told the Architectural Record, he wants “the experience of visiting the museum to be like the experience of skiing. […] You take a lift and you go to the top of the mountain, and first you enjoy the view, and then you come down the slopes.” Appropriately, along with exhibitions from David Hammons and Yves Klein, the opening will include an exhibition on Ban himself and his history of ecologically-minded designs.

Pérez Art Museum Miami

Design by Herzog & de Meuron of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (via PAMM)

It was more than a little controversial when the Miami Art Museum changed its name to the Pérez Art Museum Miami following the donation of $40 million by billionaire Jorge M. Pérez — some board members resigned. Now the new museum designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron (who have been having a run of American museums, also designing the Parrish Art Museum that opened last November) is planned to open this December during Art Basel Miami Beach with an exhibition by Ai Weiwei as its showcase. Director Thomas Collins told the Miami New Times: “We don’t have to drag a 120-year-old building into the 21st Century like museums in other cities,” so it will be interesting to see what they do with this entirely new space on the beach.

Harvard Art Museums

Rendering for the Harvard Art Museums, designed by Renzo Piano (via Harvard Art Museums)

While the major Renzo Piano project is definitely the new Whitney, sooner still is the opening of his new Harvard Art Museums. Complications set the opening back from 2013, but it now seems sure for a an opening in fall of 2014, with a renovation and expansion that brings together the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum in a massive $350 million project that embraces the old brick façade of the Fogg with the Italian architect’s love of soaring glass and illumination. And unlike the previous museums, where conditions were not always optimal, the preservation and conservation of the 250,000 or so objects was an essential part of the design. As director Tom Lentz told the Boston Globe of the museum’s previous preservation capabilities: “The internal joke is that we would never lend [artworks] to ourselves.”

UC Davis Art Museum

UC Davis Museum rendering by SO-IL (via Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art)

Another campus art museum project with potential is the new Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis. Selected for the design is New York-based SO-IL, and the star feature of the building is definitely its 50,000-square-foot permeable canopy, a major portion of the museum compared to its 29,000 square feet of gallery space. Yet the ambitious project aims to create something of a museum of the future where what is outside is as important as what’s inside. As the architects stated of their design: “The future art museum is neither isolated nor exclusive, but open and permeable; not a static shrine, but a constantly evolving public event.”

The Broad

Design for the Broad (copyright Diller Scofidio + Renfro, via the Broad Art Foundation)

Last year another campus showcase museum opened — the Broad Art Museum designed with a striking metal façade by Zaha Hadid at Michigan State University — and now entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad has moved from his alma mater to another museum slated for a 2014 opening, as the Wall Street Journal has reported. Called simply The Broad, this museum designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro will be located in downtown Los Angeles and house 2,000 pieces from Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection, including their favorites like Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Cindy Sherman, in its 120,000 square feet. When the plans were announced back in 2010 they naturally were contrasted to the other cultural institutions in LA, particularly with its heavy organic veil of a structure. As Elizabeth Diller stated of the project: “Our goal for the museum is to hold its ground next to Gehry’s much larger and very exuberant Walt Disney Concert Hall through contrast. As opposed to Disney Hall’s smooth and shiny exterior that reflects light, The Broad will be porous and absorptive, channeling light into its public spaces and galleries.”

Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print and online media since 2006. She moonlights...

6 replies on “Five American Museums on the Horizon”

  1. I disagree totally with the premise that “The future art
    museum is neither isolated nor exclusive, but open and permeable; not a static
    shrine, but a constantly evolving public event.” That’s a social worker’s
    vision, not an art connoisseur’s. Some of these expensive designs look like
    ephemeral structures more suitable to a world’s fair, and I would expect the
    atmosphere they generate to be correspondingly circus-like. Give me back the
    quiet, carefully catalogued repository in the classical temple. Its steps are
    far less “intimidating” to passing pedestrians than Renzo Piano’s $350 million
    walled bunker.

  2. “Appropriately, along with exhibitions from David Hammons and Yves Klein, the opening will include an exhibition on Ban himself and his history of ecologically-minded designs.”

    “Ecologically-minded designs?” Are you kidding? The article mentions drama.

    Richie Cohen, an esteemed Aspen community member for over 40 years, was banned from the Museum for taking 1500 signatures to City Council [in a town of less than 7000 residents] & for letters like this one:

    Taking blame for signs on museum site.

    Dear Editor:

    Since the Aspen Art Museum director has seen fit to open an attack against Lee Mulcahy, I will take this opportunity to confess to being the person who hung the two “For Sale” signs on the tractor trailers that were parked on the vacant lot (construction site) where the Wienerstube used to stand.

    The signs were two 81⁄2- by 11-inch sheets of copy paper Scotch-taped with two strips of tape on each computer-printed sheet. I thought that this would be an amusing way to call attention to this extremely disliked project that has been forced upon our cityscape.

    I do not know Mr. Mulcahy, and I do not know what he did to incur the wrath of the Art Museum director, but please do not condemn him for my actions.

    Having cleared the record regarding whatever minor incidents occurred, I am offended by Madam Director’s branding these actions as “cowardly.” She, who engineered the slimy, underhanded, backroom blackmailing (or worse?) of City Council, in order to hide her project from the scrutiny of the public approval process, is the true coward.

    I know that brevity is always more effective than wordiness, but I cannot avoid reminding the people of Aspen that your mayor and his City Council ignored more than 1,500 signed pleas to not approve the project without review.

    The Art Museum summer program for their lot was very pleasant. The paper house offered shade, the pingpong amenity was fun, and the sod lawn was a pleasant, cool, green space that will be totally missing from the finished project. I am surprised that no one thought to camp out on the site.

    I am sorry about the rant, but people don’t usually refer to me as a coward.

    Richie Cohen


    Wait, it gets better. The museum leases its space from the City of Aspen and is currently located on a public park. After publication of the above letter, the museum banned the writer,who is also over 70 and on oxygen.*

    [*For documentation, see Aspen Law Incident Report #4456: “Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, the Aspen Art Museum director, requested that police advise Cohan [sic] that he is not welcome on the lot located at E Hopkins/S Spring. Zuckerman-Jacobson also asked that I meet with her her… I assigned Officer [Terry] Leitch to locate Cohan and advise that he is not allowed on the Museum….” ]

    LOL: Isn’t an art institution is supposed to be about freedom?

    Regardless, what kind of an arts organization bans senior citizens on oxygen anyway?

Comments are closed.