In 1841, Kaiser Frederick Wilhelm IV of Prussia put into motion his plans for a ‘sanctuary for art and science’ on a small island in the river Spree. He commissioned Friedrich August Stüler to design two grand museums – the Neues museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie – to join the existing Altes Museum. The Bode-Museum and the Perganonmuseum arrived later, in 1904 and 1930 respectively. Together, the buildings of Museum Island in Berlin stand as a symbol of national identity and self-confidence. So it will be interesting to see, when it opens next summer, how David Chipperfield’s addition – the James-Simon-Galerie, a colonnaded entranceway that links the five historic institutions together – will complement the Kaiser’s vision.
The significance that museums hold worldwide as symbols of nationhood was made apparent in September, with the loss of the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. It is hoped that the Museum of Image and Sound will open in 2019, as currently scheduled – though numerous setbacks have delayed the opening date, which was originally scheduled to be 2012. Looking outward from Copacabana Beach to the South Atlantic, the museum will reflect Rio’s avid appetite for film, music, and carnival.
The $1bn Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza was also slated to open in 2012, but the inauguration has been set back several times. Set to become the largest archaeological museum worldwide, it will feature a permanent display of the contents of Tutankhamun’s tomb, amounting to some 5,000 objects never before shown in one place. The inauguration – including a partial opening of the building expected this year — has been delayed until 2020.
On 28 March, the National Museum of Qatar will open in Doha. Like the Louvre Abu Dhabi (The Apollo Awards Museum of the Year 2018), it has been designed by Jean Nouvel; here, the French architect’s vast assemblage of curved metal discs is meant to evoke the distribution patterns of desert roses. The museum will chart the evolution of Qatari identity from prehistory to the present day – the star exhibit being the restored national palace, around which the new structure is built.
The next 12 months will also see a number of ambitious spaces for contemporary art opening across the world. At the Hudson Yards in Manhattan the Shed (a modest name, for a $500m project) will open in the spring. This multi-storey, 18,500-square-metre venue – designed by Diller Scofido + Renfro, in collaboration with Rockwell Group – will commission and provide a hub for a range of cultural activity, from pop music to performance art. Elsewhere in the US, the Norton Museum, the largest museum in Florida, reopens in February after an extensive redesign by Norman Foster.
Shanghai is also getting a new cultural hub – TANK, founded by contemporary art collector Qiao Zhibing, opens in March. And in the UK, the MK Gallery will provide Milton Keynes with a space for both contemporary and historical exhibitions – Paula Rego and George Stubbs are billed for its inaugural year – alongside films, music, and performance. In Amsterdam, the Street Art Today creative agency is due to open the largest graffiti museum in the world next year. Located in a 24-metre-high former warehouse on the city’s historic docks, the museum will exhibit vast street murals side by side and intends to preserve such perishable forms of art-making for posterity.
This article was corrected on 4 January 2019. A previous version stated that a partial opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum would take place in 2019.