International museum openings to look out for this year

From the United States to South Korea to Egypt, 2023 promises to be rich in museum openings. Here’s a look at some of the new cultural institutions set to open their doors in the coming months.

The Museum of Art & Photography, Bangalore (India)

With its sleek, contemporary architecture, the Museum of Art & Photography will be one of the centerpieces of Bangalore’s museum district. The new 4,000sq m cultural centre designed by the Indian firm Mathew & Ghosh, will house no less than 60,000 artworks and artefacts. Its various sections look at Indian art and culture through the centuries – from textile skills and crafts, to the development of photography in the Indian subcontinent, to contemporary art and Bollywood.

Although the opening of this private institution has been postponed due to the pandemic, it has already made a name for itself by launching an online encyclopedia dedicated to the history of Indian art. It has also embarked on an extensive digitisation programme to promote the dissemination of South Asian arts across the Indian subcontinent.

The Museum of Art & Photography in Bangalore will open its doors on Feb 18.

The Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Buffalo (United States)

Dutch studio OMA has completely redesigned the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to make it more open, inclusive and design-led. The newly named Buffalo AKG Art Museum will continue to house the collections of the gallery founded in 1862. Visitors will be able to view more than 400 works of art in an exhibition space of nearly 5,000sq m, including a two-story gallery for large-scale installations.

Another new feature is a sculpture garden covered with a spectacular canopy of glass and mirrors, which is an original creation by Olafur Eliasson. The transformation of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum cost US$230mil, part of which was gifted by the American billionaire Jeffrey Gundlach. The businessman had fond memories of visiting the Albright-Knox Art Gallery as a child, and decided to contribute financially to its expansion.

The Buffalo AKG Art Museum is scheduled to open on May 25.

La Maison Gainsbourg, Paris (France)

It was Charlotte Gainsbourg who revived the idea of opening to the public the house in which her father, Serge Gainsbourg, lived in from 1969 until his death in 1991. After several years of work, fans of the legendary singer will be able to explore the interior of 5 bis rue de Verneuil, in the French capital’s 6th arrondissement. They will be guided in their discovery by an immersive audio experience lasting around 30 minutes.

The Maison Gainsbourg also encompasses 14 rue de Verneuil, which hosts a museum, a bookstore-boutique and a piano-bar. It is at this address that visitors will be immersed in the life and work of Gainsbourg through a chronological tour of unpublished and emblematic works, as well as archive documents.

The opening of the Maison Gainsbourg has been postponed several times. It is now expected to take place in the spring, although the exact date has not yet been confirmed.

The Grand Egyptian Museum, Cairo (Egypt)

It took 10 years – and more than a billion dollars – to build the Great Egyptian Museum (GEM), just a few steps away from the famous pyramids of Giza. Designed in 2003 by the architectural firm Heneghan Peng, the site for this new museum spans 490,000sq m, and the complex will feature multiple parks, gardens and fountains.

It houses more than 100,000 artworks and artefacts, 50,000 of which are on permanent display in a chronological sequence from prehistory to the Greco-Roman era. But the highlight of this vast collection is the treasure of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. It will be displayed in its entirety for the first time since the discovery of the Egyptian king’s tomb in 1922.

The GEM is expected to open in November, after its inauguration was repeatedly delayed due to Egypt’s political instability and the Covid pandemic. It will become the largest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilization, namely that of Ancient Egypt.

The Robot & AI Museum, Seoul (South Korea)

This is certainly the most surprising museum opening of 2023. It is the very first Asian museum dedicated to the science of robotics. The Turkish agency Melike Altinisik Architects won an international competition to build the Robot & AI Museum.

It has created a four-story cultural centre where visitors can discover exhibitions on artificial intelligence and robotics in a 7,400sq m space. Robots have participated in the construction of the Robot & AI Museum, alongside real-world workers. Other so-called “service” robots will play a role in the day-to-day life of the museum, according to Melike Altinisik Architects.

However, prospective visitors will have to wait a little longer – probably until July – to see them in action. – AFP

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