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Towards a New Museum

Victoria Newhouse

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ISBN 10: 1580931804 / ISBN 13: 9781580931809
Published by The Monacelli Press, 2007
Used Condition: Used: Good Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Towards a New Museum

Publisher: The Monacelli Press

Publication Date: 2007

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Used: Good

About this title


Since first publication in 1998, Towards a New Museum has achieved iconic status as a seminal exploration of the late-20th-century revolution in museum architecture: the transformation from museum as restrained container for art to museum as exuberant companion to art. Author Victoria Newhouse critiqued numerous institutions for the display of art opened in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, culminating in Frank Gehry's Guggenheim in Bilbao and Richard Meier's Getty Center in Los Angeles. In this expanded edition, she continues her investigation of new museums, assessing the radical, 21st-century changes that have propelled Herzog & de Meuron's De Young Museum in San Francisco and SANAA's 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, to the forefront of this building type.

Among the institutions added to this new edition are the Giovanni and Marella Agnelli Pinacoteca, perched atop an enormous Fiat factory in Turin, Italy, and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, both by Renzo Piano Building Workshop; three notable updates of the museum as sacred space, two by Yoshio Taniguchi and one by SANAA; the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati by Zaha Hadid; and expansions of the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art in Madrid by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis by Herzog & de Meuron, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York by Taniguchi. Finally, the De Young Museum, reflecting its own eclectic conditions, and the 21st Century Museum, consisting of non-hierarchical spaces for every conceivable kind of contemporary artwork as well as facilities for social exchange, are innovative hybrids that propose new directions for the future of museum architecture.


Should art museums be designed to surprise and delight or to instruct and uplift? Should the museum building be a temple of art or an entertainment complex? Architectural historian Victoria Newhouse considers these and other questions about museums in her book Towards a New Museum. Newhouse examines dozens of art museums built during the 1980s and 1990s and describes how the buildings fit into the history of ideas about the proper function of museums. Some museums are like cabinets of curiosities, a hodgepodge of items the collector assembles to delight viewers. Other designers of museums strive to provide a neutral environment that does not distract viewers from the art. However, some architects believe that hanging paintings on white walls in galleries separates the art from its context. Architects and artists have grappled with these ideas and created some stunning and outlandish museums in recent years. Newhouse describes the sinuous, titanium-coated new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the fractured forms of the Fredrick R. Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis. She writes about the artist Donald Judd, who bought most of Marfa, Texas, and made it a museum. These are bold and sometimes beautiful museums. Newhouse wisely includes plenty of good pictures and diagrams of each building.

In different segments of the book, Newhouse discusses: private museums, museums that function as temples of art, museums devoted to one artist, and museums designed by artists. She also devotes a chapter to the unfortunate impact of museum politics on design. This chapter, "Wings That Don't Fly," illustrates some of the more vivid design disasters in recent history, including the "toilet tank" addition to the Guggenheim in New York. Art historians, architects, and people who are connected to museums will find this book an instructive, thoughtful overview of what's going on with museums today. --Jill Marquis

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