Friday, 16 February 2018

NEW MUSEUMS IN THE LAST YEAR: A GLOBAL LOOK

MUSINGS ABROAD

BY: KRISTEN MCLAUGHLIN

We may hear a lot about new museums opening in Toronto (like the old city hall turning into a museum, anyone?), yet I find that perhaps we are a bit out of the loop as museum professionals in Canada--especially Eastern Canada, where we tend to focus on the more local--when it comes to museums around the world. As was discussed at length in the Museum Studies Student Association's Women in Leadership panel earlier this month, getting global experience can be vital to our growth as professionals but also as globally aware human beings!

So I decided to make a small article this week listing some of the museums that have opened across this world of ours in 2017 and one to look out for in 2018; be sure to look out for some that will be opening over the coming years!

1. Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa

An image of the ceiling dome of the new contemporary arts museum. Source.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is not just a landmark for South Africa but for the world. It will be the biggest museum to open on the continent in over a century. The art inside has only been created since the year 2000 from Africa and its diaspora. This is a new cutting edge museum with over nine floors of work; if anyone is headed for Cape Town this will be a must see! 

2. 2017 World Expo, Astana, Kazakhstan


The 2017 World Expo at night. Source.


The world at large is generally familiar with the idea of the world expo: a large gathering of exhibits from around the world demonstrating a variety of cultures, scientific innovations, art, and more that began in 1851. The act is still going strong, with last year's debuting in Kazakhstan in modern buildings. This expo took place between June and September 2017, focused on the question "how do we ensure safe and sustainable access to energy for all while reducing CO2 emissions?". The question of sustainability has been very popular in museum groups in the last year or two, so it is important to look at this world expo to see what was shown. We also know that World Expo buildings frequently outlive the expo itself and take on second or third lives as other types of museums. Let's keep our eye on Kazakhstan to see what they do with these grounds!

PS: Canada did not participate in this world expo.... despite all of my Googling I couldn't find a reason, so any info is appreciated!


3. Louvre Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


It's finally open! Source.

Despite the difficulties this museum has run into--it was originally meant to open in 2012--it finally opened in November of last year. The UAE are well known for eye-catching gimmicks to catch the world's attention, such as the World Islands initiative in Dubai, and this latest iteration of the Louvre may be along a similar vein. However, it may be worth the visit just to see the architecture, meant to imitate sunshine through palm leaves and its collection; it showcases art from the Louvre, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musee d'Orsay, and the Palace of Versailles, as well as a new photography collection. The museum, created through an agreement between the French and UAE governments, is important for future considerations of new international museum creations. 


4. Beit Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon


A new urban cultural centre focused on the civil war. Source.

Beit Beirut (or "the house of Beirut") is a museum and an urban cultural centre focused on the history of Beirut and specifically, the civil war. The original building, also known as the "Barakat building" or the yellow house, is a historic landmark from 1924. The civil war took its toll on the building when Christian militants moved in and took it over. It was sentenced for demolition in 1997 but saved by heritage activitists. The new museum traces the 7000-year history of the city. It has run into some problems: it was supposed to open in 2013 but didn't open until 2016, and then closed again with temporary re-opening in 2017. The significance of this building and its bullet-peppered walls is a symbol of the civil war in Lebanon and what that means for a nation still in turmoil. The museum contains documents, records, and the municipality's archives, all accessible to the public

5. 2018 to Look For: Grand Egyptian Museum (Giza Museum), Giza, Egypt

The facade of the new museum. Source.

This coming year has many exciting museum openings, but one that should be at the heart of the global interest is the Grand Egyptian/Giza Museum in Giza, Egypt. Described as the world's largest archaeological museum, it should exhibit the full Tutanhkamun collection with many pieces displayed for the first time. The museum is within 2 km of the Giza pyramids, making for a great day trip where one can see the pyramids through the glass walls of the museum. It should display over 100,000 artifacts and open in late 2018. Objects on display will be from all over Egypt and will be a place of national pride for Egypt, which has undergone heavy political upheaval in the last several years. It will be interesting to see how this museum, poised between the pyramids and the city of Cairo, will act as a balancing act between the history and the future.



Museums around the world are on an exciting precipice: one of intriguing architecture, global collection sharing, and national importance. As museum professionals it is necessary that we look outside of our own bubble to take note--and visit!--what is happening outside of our country and around the world. 

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