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The 21st century has seen rather an explosion in the number of museum projects worldwide with particularly notable openings in recent years in the Middle East, where Qatar and Abu Dhabi have invested heavily in the cultural sector, and in China, where it is estimated that over 2,000 new museums have been built this century. Elsewhere, examples of major projects are plentiful; from Tate Modern (opened in 2000) to major privately-supported museums including the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, the Punta della Dugano in Venice, the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, and the Long Museum in Shanghai.  And all the while, national museums continue to develop and adapt to modern audiences. We have picked out a few upcoming developments which have recently pricked our interest.

As well as their new courtyard and entrance set to open at the end of this month as part of the new Exhibition Road Quarter, last week the Victoria and Albert Museum in London revealed the designs for its new Photography Centre.  Designed by David Kohn Architects (DKA), the project will more than double the existing space dedicated to the medium in the museum.  It will comprise a suite of spectacular rooms and will be named The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery in recognition of the generosity of The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation. A modular system of display cases that can be easily reconfigured will allow for greater flexibility and varied displays of a wide range of objects, from photographs to cameras, publications and archive materials, exploring the relationship between art and technology.  We’re already looking forward to exploring the new space when it opens in autumn 2018..

The V&A will also open a new design gallery in Shekou in Shenzhen, southern China, later this year, within Design Society and in collaboration with China Merchants Shekou Holdings (CMSK).   The museum has a five year partnership with CMSK and will organise ongoing loan exhibitions of 20th and 21st century international design. 

Furthermore 2018 sees the opening and development of many other museums and galleries around the world.  Opening imminently, on 23 June, is the shimmering Botín Centre in Santander, northern Spain, designed by Renzo Piano and covered in 270,000 ceramic discs.  Piano’s first building in Spain will provide a permanent home for the collections of the Fundacíon Botín, founded in 1964 by the Botíns, the same family behind Santander Bank, and will open with the first large-scale monographic exhibition of Carston Höller (1961) to ever take place in the country.  The Belgian artist is known for his continued investigation of the spectator’s experience and how their engagement completes the work.  The works on show include iconic pieces such as Y (2003) and Elevator Bed (2010), in which visitors will be able to spend the night, as well as High Psychotank (2015), in which the visitor will literally be able to immerse themselves.  A multi-layered experience that should not be missed.

 September will see the anticipated opening of the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art.  Focusing on 21st century art from Africa and its diaspora, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town has been designed by the British based Heatherwick Studio. It is the brainchild of German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz, whose collection forms the basis of the museum, and who says, “the last time Africa built a museum of this scale was in 1892.”

After a five-year delay, this autumn will also see the official opening of the long-awaited Louvre Abu Dhabi, on Saadiyat Island, the new museum and culture quarter developed by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.  The officials say that the striking domed building “will be a place of discovery, exchange and education as well as playing an important social role in United Arab Emirates.”  They have been working with the Sorbonne in Paris to set up a master’s program for museum professionals.  It is a joint venture between the French government, the Louvre and the Al-Nahyans, who are hoping it will earn the city a reputation for culture and draw in tourists.  The works on show will span centuries of civilisation from antiquity to contemporary, all housed in a building by Jean Nouvel that is an attraction in itself.

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