15 amazing and innovative Museum designs by Architects all over the world that might give you interest on visiting for your architectural and design inspiration.
Take a museum tour where the most beautiful artwork on display may be the building itself…
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha,Qatar
I. M. Pei toured the Muslim world for inspiration and wound up creating a museum that is beautiful in its simple, dynamic design, which echoes traditional Islamic architecture. The pale sand-colored stone blocks form a five-story tower that casts long shadows once night falls. A row of palm trees and a waterfall feature lead to the entrance of this contemporary design museum – built on a private, man-made island on the harbor.
MAS Museum, Antwerp,Belgium
Architects Neutelings and Riedijk alternated between red sandstone from India and glass panes to give this riverfront museum a distinctive look that’s modern even as it recalls the 16th-century storehouses used in Antwerp’s old port. The connection to the city is in the details as well: if you look closely at the 203-foot-tall building, you’ll see 3,185 silver hands, the symbol of Antwerp. The vertical “boulevard” – a series of elevators that follow the glass spiral of the building – provides sensational new views of the harbor and rooftop from every level and leads to the rooftop, open until midnight.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City
The original limestone building, with its Ionic columns and grand, almost temple-like Neoclassical design, dates back to the 1930s. In 2007, the museum got a renovation and a modern extension: a series of five cubes or “lenses” made of clear and translucent glass designed by Steven Holl. The lenses are integrated with the surrounding landscape, following the slope of the lawn, and they’re a dramatic, yet complementary counterpoint.
National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
While much of this museum is subterranean, its visible steel and glass exterior makes a bold impression, curving skyward up to 170 feet. Award-winning architect César Pelli wanted to mimic bamboo reeds waving in the wind, though his creation also gets compared to a set of wings. The play of the light filtered through into the lobby provides an ever-changing feel to the interior gallery space, which gets hidden support (and waterproofing) from a nearly 10-foot-thick concrete wall.
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
Local architects Darling and Pearson unveiled the original Italianate Neo-Romanesque museum building in 1914. A few renovations and additions followed (the 1933 expansion added a Neo-Byzantine façade), but things only got controversial with the 2007 debut of “The Crystal.” The museum’s gem collection inspired Daniel Libeskind’s deconstructionist design of five interlocking prisms made of steel beams, aluminum, and glass. Some were appalled, while others applauded the building’s daring departure from the norm.
Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
With its attention-grabbing twisted and reflective walls, Frank Gehry’s museum famously put Bilbao on the tourist map when it opened in 1997 (on time and on budget, which doesn’t usually happen with this size project). The building is made of glass, limestone, and titanium panels that look like fish scales. Its organic curves are designed to catch the light, and the 50-foot atrium – a typical Gehry element – is illuminated in part by light streaming from the “metallic flower” of the roof.
Hedmark Museum, Hamar,Norway
Set on 400 grassy acres near Mjøsa Lake, the Hedmark Museum complex features open-air exhibitions, a rebuilt 18th-century farmhouse, even an herb garden. The jewel in its crown, however, is the ruins of a cathedral constructed in the 1150s and partially destroyed in 1567. The four grand arches that remain are now sheltered under a soaring triangle of glass and steel. The setting has become popular for weddings and events, so you might have to wait for a break in the action to peek inside.
Hermitage, St. Petersburg,Russia
One of the world’s oldest museums, founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, is a complex of six sherbet-colored buildings with a prime location between the Neva River and the Palace Square. The grandest is the green-and-white Winter Palace, which takes up an entire block (one estimate cites 1,945 windows). The one-time imperial residence has a double tier of columns, a golden dome, and opulent gallery rooms with Baroque and Rococo flourishes.
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee
Shaped like a cross and made of concrete and steel, Eero Saarinen’s abstract, Modernist War Memorial Center seemingly floats on a pedestal. Compare its block form to the Quadracci Pavilion, Santiago Calatrava’s sculptural, white postmodern take on a Gothic cathedral complete with flying buttresses and a vaulted ceiling. And then get ready for the most spectacular feature: the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen in the form of a pair of wings with a 217-foot span that actually moves at select times throughout the day.
Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Brazil
The official name honors its Brazilian architect (now 95 years old), but it’s more commonly called the Museum of the Eye after its latest addition. Finished in 2002, the glass-encased Annex (“The Eye”) is perched atop a 60-foot-wide yellow pillar and accessed by a long curving ramp. The constantly changing reflection of the sky in the glass exterior and the reflecting pool below makes each viewing feel unique. A curving tunnel running beneath the reflecting pool connects the Annex to the original 1967 Niemeyer building.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Inaugurated as a train station for the 1900 World’s Fair, this elegant building on the Left Bank of the Seine officially became a museum in 1986. Luckily, the original architectural ornamentation and stately arches of the Beaux-Arts-style station remain. And inside, the arched glass barrel ceiling lets plenty of natural light flood the sculptures in the long main hall. Stop at the café to see the Seine through the huge metal clock, a legacy of the museum’s railroad roots.
Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX
Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s five pavilions surround a tranquil 1.5-acre reflecting pond. The flat-topped buildings are made of 40-foot-high panes of glass that let in natural light for the exhibits while also providing views of the city and the well-kept grounds. A visit during the day means you can see one of the 2,600-plus works of modern art, but if you come by at night – perhaps for dinner at Café Modern – you’ll see the pavilions lit up rather like giant floating lanterns.
National Museum of Australia, Canberra
Fifty thousand years of Australian history fit into this colorful museum, which architect Howard Raggatt modeled on the theme of knotted ropes meant to connect the different strands of the country’s people and history. The museum entrance acts as the center of the knot, and one of its trailing ropes is the Uluru line with its 98-foot roller-coaster-like loop. The exterior of the semicircular museum itself is covered in aluminum panels with words written on them in Braille.
Guggenheim, New York City
Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiraling reinforced concrete is a triumph of modern architecture. But back in the 1950s, his design was so foreign as a use for a museum that it had to be executed by a builder with a background in constructing parking garages. The sleek spirals are the ramps in the museum’s interior that lead visitors from exhibit to exhibit and allow for unique displays of art. While the building itself is a piece of art – a kind of inverted ziggurat – some artists see the museum as a challenging place to display work.
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
The Centre Georges Pompidou is at the very heart of Paris, in the neighborhood known to locals as Beaubourg, and hosts some of the city’s most exciting exhibitions and cultural events. Parisians come here to learn, unwind, eat, and peruse the center’s temporary and permanent exhibits. Initially snubbed for its offbeat design, the Pompidou has been embraced as a symbol of modern Paris by locals, who throng on the large plaza outside the endearingly odd structure, and use up all the available space inside, too – bookstore, cinemas, library, design shop, and more.
The Centre was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and its main features are the fact of all elevators, stairs, and pipes being on the outside of the building. As a result, interior walls can be rearranged to adjust floorplans as exhibits change.