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Starchitecture’s Positive Impact on Museum Traffic

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On October 16th

 

 

Maman by Louise Bourgeois in front of The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain image via koikile on Flickr

Maman by Louise Bourgeois in front of The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain image via koikile on Flickr

 

Today’s museums are as much about the architecture as they are the collections within. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain was designed by Frank Gehry and was the starting point of a trend that still continues, often referred to as the Bilbao Effect. Simply put, Bilbao’s $200-million gamble bringing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to the Basque region of Spain paid off, culturally and economically.  The Guggenheim Museum’s success in Bilbao did more than perhaps any other cultural institution to convince leaders and developers that where mega-projects go, economic transformation follows. (The Atlantic Cities.com.).

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill writes that over the past fifteen years, other cities sought to imitate Bilbao’s success by building new museums or museum additions designed by starchitects as part of civic renewal projects. Examples include the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland designed by Steven Holl, the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, England and the Royal Ontario Museum addition in Toronto, both designed by Daniel Libeskind, the Denver Art Museum addition designed jointly by Daniel Libeskind and a local architecture firm, and the Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration in Hartford, Connecticut designed by César Pelli. The Ars Aevi Museum in Sarajevo designed by Renzo Piano is to be opened in Sarajevo in 2014. All of these projects are meant to use the drawing power of a spectacular building to attract tourists and other visitors to cities that would not otherwise be major destinations.s, by OMA. (Philanthropy Daily).

To learn more about the Guggenheim Bilbao: visit little aesthete wonderful images and information….

 

In addition to being an architect, Steven Holl is also a watercolorist who uses this medium to explore the possibilities of light. Above is a watercolor "sketch" of one of his studio's latest projects, the Nanajing Museum. Read more: INHABITAT INTERVIEW: 7 Questions with Architect Steven Holl

In addition to being an architect, Steven Holl is also a watercolorist who uses this medium to explore the possibilities of light. Above is a watercolor “sketch” of one of his studio’s latest projects, the Nanajing Museum. Read more: INHABITAT INTERVIEW: 7 Questions with Architect Steven Holl

 

I offer to you, just for fun, Wikipedia’s lists of: Starchitects, Former Starchitects, and Canonic Architects

Starchitects: feel free to offer any names you feel should appear on these lists

Former Starchitects

Canonic Architects

 

Royal Ontario Museum-Studio Daniel Libeskind

Royal Ontario Museum-Studio Daniel Libeskind

 

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (beeld en geluid).Image by Iwan Baan

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (beeld en geluid). Image by Iwan Baan

 

Museum of Biodiversity (or Biomuseo) Panama City, located in the alleged epicenter of biodiversity, Panama’s Biomuseo strives to tell compelling stories about nature’s wonders and thus stress the importance of their safeguarding. Architect Frank Gehry

Museum of Biodiversity (or Biomuseo) Panama City, located in the alleged epicenter of biodiversity, Panama’s Biomuseo strives to tell compelling stories about nature’s wonders and thus stress the importance of their safeguarding. Architect Frank Gehry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Watermill Center is a wondrous world. It was founded in 1992 by stage director, playwright and visual artist, Robert Wilson. With a degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute  and enormous talents in painting, sculpting, furniture and lighting design, he is a genius in many arenas.

 

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He has been described as a pioneer in the art world who has changed the way we look at theater, art and design. Here is a classic example of Robert Wilson’s unique approach and extraordinary vision.

When Robert Wilson sent his ‘shopping list’ for the contents of his installation for the Isamu Noguchi: Scultpural Design exhibition at the Design Museum in summer 2001, it included: nine tons of silver sand; six tons of black lava sand; numerous sacks of broken glass; scores of aluminium squares; several dozen of bales of fireproofed straw; and enough loose hay to build a haystack.

The result was a sensational sequence of galleries: one shrouded in darkness, the next brightly illuminated, followed by stepping stones tripping across an elegantly raked sea of sand and the icy white set elements from Martha Graham’s 1944 Herodiade standing in a lake of shattered glass.

It was an extraordinary tribute to the work of Isamu Noguchi, the American-Japanese designer-sculptor whom Wilson had befriended in the 1960s and 1970s while making his name as a promising young theatre director and designer in New York.

 

Isamu Noguchi Installation by Robert Wilson

Isamu Noguchi Installation by Robert Wilson

The Watermill Center describes themselves as an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities. They also are loosely, a museum. The Watermill Collection of over 7,000 art and artifact pieces spanning the history of humankind is integrated into all aspects of the building and grounds as a reminder that the history of each civilization is told by its artists.

One of the artists is Robert Wilson himself. When you visit the museum you will see some of the chairs he has designed. As of 2011 the collection of chairs numbered 1,000, including his designs and many international classics.

The center is set up as a laboratory for the arts and humanities to support the work of emerging artists. Watermill is a global community living and working together among the extensive collection of art and artifacts. If you are fortunate enough to be accepted into the Residency Program, then this is what you have access to: in Wilson’s words, “I maintain the space and allow others to interface with it, change it, and develop their own work in an aesthetic that can be completely different from my own.”

 

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Two Tourists

 

In conclusion we quote Robert Wilson from a story in Artspace , A Place Where We Ask Questions

When I was a student, I was assigned to design a city in three minutes. I handed in a drawing of an apple with a crystal cube in the center. When asked, I explained that it was my idea for a city—that our communities need centers like the crystal cube that can reflect the universe, the same way the cathedral was the center in a medieval village. It was the tallest building, the place where people congregated to exchange ideas; where artists showed their work; and where people came for contemplation and spiritual growth.

Watermill is such a center: a place where we ask questions. We must always ask, “What is it?” But we must not say what it is—for if we know what we are doing, there is no reason to do it.

I share Watermill with artists who are doing what no one else is doing. They continue to inspire me year after year.  Robert Wilson