Zaha Hadid’s Center for Contemporary Art and the perils of new museum architecture | EM Merrill | arq: Architectural Research Quarterly

As epitomised in the works of Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, and Daniel Libeskind, the ‘new museum’ of art claims its own architectural typology. With asymmetrical silhouettes, gallery spaces that eschew the much derided ‘white cube’, and cleverly conceived circulation systems, the new museum has been heralded as revolutionising the display of art. Yet its function extends beyond the display and conservation of art. The new art museum is conceived as a multifaceted cultural centre – a public forum – where art and culture are democratised, and families, scholars, students, tourists, and teachers come together. At the same time, the new museum competes with other entertainment venues on a commercial level. As a cultural factory replete with an ambitious programme of temporary exhibitions, media facilities, restaurants, and shops, the new museum emphasises consumption as much as it does contemplation. In fact, the array of non-artrelated diversions contained in the new museum is often more important to the institution’s success than the art itself.

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