With 12 grand unveilings this year and next, it’s time to update your museum bucket list.
By Steve Aust
Early predictions that the pandemic disruption would shutter as many as one-third of museums have, thankfully, proven to be unfounded. In fact, 2023 saw the unveiling of a number of brand-new museums, and many surviving institutions have recently invested in substantial renovations, equipping them to educate and inspire whole new generations of patrons. Here’s a look at 12 museums that opened or are slated to open (or reopen) in 2023 and 2024.
The International African American Museum (IAAM), Charleston, S.C.
Opened in late January, the IAAM was built on Gadsden’s Wharf, a spot that was a major point of entry for slave transport. The IAAM tells “the unvarnished stories of the African American experience across generations” with 12 permanent exhibits and a 3,000-square-foot Special Exhibitions Gallery featuring artistic, historical and immersive displays that will open in mid-2024.
The Grand Egyptian Museum, Al Haram, Egypt
Scheduled to open in late 2023, the Grand Egyptian Museum—located about a mile away from the Pyramids of Giza—will be home to more than 100,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts, including all of King Tutankhamun’s surviving treasures.
National Portrait Gallery, London
The National Portrait Gallery reopened, on June 22, after the installation of entirely new artwork and a complete renovation of its interior space. The $54 million revamp, which began in 2020, houses an inclusive collection that provides a “gallery for everyone,” according to Allison Smith, chief curator.
The Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bengaluru, India
Opened in February, MAP’s handsome modern architecture houses approximately 1,000 years of subcontinental art and artifacts. The facility also houses galleries, an auditorium, fine dining, and research and conservation resources.
UCLA Hammer Museum, Lynda and Stewart Resnick Cultural Center, Los Angeles
The UCLA Hammer Museum culminated two decades of renovation and expansion with a March 26 unveiling. The institution’s transformation provides stunning curb appeal with a Rita McBride installation and a 25-foot Sanford Biggers cast-bronze sculpture in its lobby.
Museum of Modern Art, Istanbul, Turkey
Opened in 2004, Turkey’s first modern art museum enters its second act after a five-year building process concluded with a triumphant May 4 reopening in a 110,000-square-foot showplace. A dedicated photography gallery features “In Another Place,” an exhibition of 22 portraits by filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Sydney Modern Project, Australia
The Sydney Modern Project, which opened last December, provides a stunning backdrop with abundant natural light and striking angles with all of its energy derived from renewable sources. Ample space is devoted to Down Under Aboriginal artists, including a 23,000-square-foot subterranean space that served as an oil reservoir during World War II.
Punk Rock Museum, Las Vegas
Punk legend Fat Mike Burkett and other high-decibel rockers embodied the genre’s DIY mentality in developing this museum, which includes artifacts such as hand-scrawled set lists, show-worn clothing and concert posters. And how many museums offer an on-premises tattoo parlor and a chapel where fans can stage a wedding—or a wake?
Looking Ahead to 2024
Universal Hip Hop Museum (UHHM), The Bronx, N.Y.
Music-centric museums must connect with both the uninitiated and passionate uberfans. The UHHM will be located at Bronx Point, near the spot where hip hop was “born” a half-century ago. Museum curators are currently processing approximately 30,000 pieces, and the genre’s continuing evolution will undoubtedly enrich museum exhibits.
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Neb.
The Joslyn, which first opened in 1931, closed in mid-2022 with a plan to “grow and reimagine ourselves.” The resulting renovation will feature the 42,000-square-foot Rhonda and Howard Hawks Pavilion, providing a permanent collection centerpiece, as well as vibrant education and community spaces. A 50-piece exhibit from the Phillip G. Schrager Collection will be a focal point.
Frick Museum, New York City
After its temporary relocation to Madison Avenue during renovations, The Frick Collection will return to the Henry Clay Frick mansion on the Upper East Side in March 2024, and reopen its doors by year’s end. The renovated space will integrate classic portraiture with more modern interpretations.
Museum of Shakespeare, London
Built on the ruins of the Curtain Theatre, where the troupe Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed Shakespeare’s plays, the Museum of Shakespeare will feature interactive exhibits that depict The Bard’s life and the early years of the troupe’s London performances. The museum will be located underground and interwoven into the Curtain’s excavated remains.
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