Make Museums Great Again? The future of museum architecture

A contribution by Prof. Dr. Philip Ursprung

Professor of History of Art and Architecture at ETH Zurich

Impulse lecture within the framework of the symposium
Yesterday. Today! Tomorrow?
From the museum of late modernism, its history and its future, monument protection, the “third place” or climate box versus climate crisis.
Part II, September 1 + 2, 2023
What next? More and more is not enough. Best Practices in Dealing with Redevelopment, Expansion, Rededication in Reflection of the Third Place’s Expanded Museum Function.

An old, large building with several building wings from the bird
A fire occurred at the Brazilian National Museum in Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 2, 2018, Photo by Museu Nacional da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

In the phase of the millennium, from the mid-1990s to the 2010s, museum construction was the supreme discipline of architecture, the emblem of star architecture. Meanwhile, economic crisis, climate change, and restitution demands are challenging the growth trend of museums. Are new museum buildings anachronistic symbols of an outdated exclusive Eurocentric ideology? Or places of artistic experimentation, social inclusion and new beginnings? The museum has not had its day, on the contrary. But it’s time to rethink it. Different, international examples of recent years testify to the diversity and potential of museum buildings beyond star architecture. They help to shed more light on the situation in Bielefeld and to see the chances and potential of a careful transformation.

You can watch the recording of the entire talk here.

A middle-aged white man with glasses and short dark brown hair. He wears a dimly checkered black sacko over a black T-shirt. A filled bookshelf is blurred in the background.
Prof. Dr. Philip Ursprung, Photo: Katalin Deér

Philip Ursprung is professor of art and architectural history at ETH Zurich. He studied in Geneva, Vienna and Berlin and received his PhD from the FU Berlin in 1993. He has taught at the UdK Berlin, Columbia University New York, Cornell University, Barcelona Institute of Architecture and the University of Zurich. He is the editor of Herzog & de Meuron: Natural History (2002), co-editor of Gordon Matta-Clark: An Archival Sourcebook (2022), author of The Art of the Present (2010), The Value of Surface: Essays on Art, Architecture, and Economics (2017), and Joseph Beuys: Art, Capital, Revolution (2021), among others. Together with Karin Sander he is responsible for the exhibition “Neighbours” in the pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023.

Further blog posts related to the architecture symposium

The symposium is sponsored and supported by:

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The advertising poster of the Architecture Symposium with writing in the bottom left corner: Part 2, September 1. + 2. .