The keepers of the history of the world, museums are monuments that take us back to the times gone by. This International Museum Day (May 18), since you can’t travel the world and visit a beautiful museum, we’re bringing the beautiful museums to you. Check out these stunning museum facadesthat house even better arts and artifacts.
The Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry the Guggenheim in Bilbao opened in 1997. Located on the banks of the Nervión River, the curving sculptural structure is made of titanium, limestone, glass, and is designed to reflect light. In fact, the town of Bilbao, which was once a dilapidated port city, is now a booming tourist destination thanks to the museum. Subsequently, the phenomenon of a city’s transformation following the construction of a significant piece of architecture is now referred to as the “Bilbao Effect.” The museum’s collection has some impressive pieces – Jeff Koons’ Tulips, Richard Serra’s Matter of Time, Louise Bourgeois’ Maman.
Construction on the Louis Vuitton Foundation began in 2008 and the building opened to visitors in 2014. The tourist attraction is an art museum and cultural centre sponsored by luxury conglomerate LVMH and its subsidiaries. It was designed by architect Frank Gehry, on the founding principles of 19th century landscaped gardens. The two-story structure has 11 galleries of different sizes, a 350-seat auditorium and multilevel roof terraces for events and art installations. Art aficionados can check out their collection online including pop art pioneer Andy Warhol, neo-expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and sculptor Damien Hirst.
Founded in 1754 by Catherine the Great and open to the public since 1852, the museum sits on the banks of the Neva River. It is the second-largest art museum in the world and boasts 2.7 million art pieces. The Hermitage houses everything from Egyptian antiquities to Italian Rennaissance, and, of course, Russian artworks. Don’t miss Impression of Morning by Monet or the classic Picasso and Matisse paintings. Catherine the Great’s original collection also included Rembrandt’s Danae, Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Glove, painted by Frans Hals, and others by Anthony van Dyck, and Rubens.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai
This Indian museum definitely warrants a mention for its glorious Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, which incorporates elements of Mughal, Maratha and Jain architecture. It was designed by George Wittet and was completed in 1914. The museum showcases its collection of ancient Indian relics, Indus Valley civilisation artefacts and rich textile heritage online too.
The Museo Soumaya is a private museum in Mexico City and a non-profit cultural institution, founded by billionaire Carlos Slim. The new building in Plaza Carso in the Nuevo Polanco district was designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero and opened in 2011, and the 6-storey exterior is made of 16,000 hexagonal aluminium plates. The museum holds the largest collection of casts of sculptures by Auguste Rodin outside France, and the world’s largest private collection of his art. Other artists showcased include Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, the circle of Leonardo da Vinci, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Joan Miró, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Claude Monet.
Musée National d’Art Moderne, The Pompidou Centre, Paris, France
It was one of the first examples of an ‘inside-out’ building, its structural system, mechanical systems, and circulation are exposed on its exterior. The Centre completed construction in 1977, and is said to have revolutionised the architecture of museums from traditionally grand buildings to modern socio-cultural hotspots. Some must-see art is Marcel Duchamp’s world-famous urinal ‘Fountain’, Jackson Pollock’s work, Yves Klein’s Blue Monochromeand Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden by Otto Dix.
Architect IM Pei had to be coaxed out of retirement to design this all-white waterfront museum, which opened in 2008. Pei used ancient Islamic architectural influences yet ended up with geometric patterned modern design. The structure was built off an artificial peninsula and suits the landscape of the city. Some amazing Islamic art at the museum is ancient textile carpets, Moroccan jewellery and a 1600 – 1900 CE era Chinese Qur’an.
Designed by architect Jean Nouvel, Louvre Abu Dhabi was inaugurated in 2017. The dome of the building is inspired by a typical Arabic architectural feature, the cupola. It is a structure of 7,850 stars, which are repeated at various sizes and angles in eight different layers. This leads to an enchanting effect when the sun filters in through the perforations in the dome.
Head to their website to see some exceptional art, including Virgin and Child by Giovanni Bellini, an Astrolabe by Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Battûtî, Children Wrestling by Paul Gauguin and Oriental Bliss by Paul Klee.