Museum attendance generates more than 13 billion dollars in revenue every year, in the United States alone. It’s a big business, though the formula for running a successful museum hasn’t changed much in the past several decades. Museums typically house artifacts from ages past, and are thought of as historical monuments, drawing in experts in their respective fields as well as curious individuals looking for a window into the past, but rarely offering an innovative spin on the classic presentation method.
However, there’s a new generation of museums hoping to challenge the status quo, and bring museums up-to-date in this technologically advanced, engagement-seeking modern world.
New Museums for a New World
These are just some of the newest museums looking to change how the world thinks about museums:
- Spyscape. Spyscape is a relatively new museum in New York that covers the history of espionage, from its early beginnings to its modern state in the context of cyber espionage. The exhibits are more than just idle statements of fact, however, as the building offers several interactive experiences, including a laser tunnel as part of its “special ops” challenge, and puzzles to solve in its encryption center.
- Beta Main. Built in Los Angeles, Beta Main is, in its own words, “a physical and conceptual space for experimentation.” This is currently the first phase of a planned three-phase project, showcasing experimental art in a radical new context, with a 12-meter glass wall and five studios for artists-in-residence.
- The Guardian Art Center. Beijing’s upcoming Guardian Art Center was created as an extension of a modern auction house. Meant to serve simultaneously as a museum, an auction house, and a cultural complex, this building blurs the conventional lines that separate different types of artistic establishments. It’s due to open in May.
- Louvre Abu Dhabi. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is opening on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, and intuitively enough, it serves as a sister museum to the Louvre in Paris. The Louvre Abu Dhabi breaks new ground by refusing to showcase art in chronological order, or in sections segmented by geography or culture; instead, masterpieces from radically different backgrounds are shown together to challenge categorical thinking.
- Zeitz MOCAA. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) is pushing the boundaries of museum design and function in a few different ways. For starters, there are 100 galleries to see across 9 stories, so understandably, it will be South Africa’s largest art museum to date. It’s also situated below the Silo hotel, which is home to 28 luxury rooms, a rooftop pool, and other luxury accoutrements.
- V&A Dundee. Representing Scotland’s first design museum, the V&A Dundee’s most important feature is its breathtaking architectural design. Hull-shaped and anchored in the River Tay, the V&A is set to showcase local design work dating back hundreds of years.
- Tank Shanghai. Blurring the lines between museum and recreation space, Tank Shanghai is spread across five decommissioned (and repurposed) oil tanks. Working together with Open Architecture in Beijing, Tank Shanghai links these tanks together at ground level, and will showcase commissioned installation and Qiao Zhibing’s art collection once it opens in November.
Classics and Contemporaries
New museums may challenge old traditions and establishments, but they also have the power to breathe new life into old structures, inspire new generations to take interest in new subjects, and ultimately, spread more knowledge throughout the populations of the world. All industries require innovation to keep moving forward, and these museum leaders are doing what they can to introduce that spark.