The doors of the former Berlin Palace – destroyed by Allied Bombs in 1945, and now reconstructed to the tune of some €590m – are slated to open at long last in September. Described by some as Berlin’s answer to the British Museum, the Humboldt Forum will house the city’s collections of ethnographic and Asian art, while also aiming to stage some 1,000 events a year – and expecting around 3 million visitors. At a time when the status of ethnological collections in European institutions continues to be debated vociferously, the opening promises to be a watershed moment.
Elsewhere in Germany, the reopening on 29 February of the Semperbau am Zwinger at the Dresden State Art Collections – home to the Old Masters Picture Gallery – will provide a welcome moment for cultural celebration in the city, after the theft of important jewellery from the Green Vault in November.
The opening of the Nationalmuseet in Oslo has been pushed back to 2021 – but in the meantime the expanded Munch Museum is on schedule to open in spring this year; with 13 floors and 11 exhibition halls in a new building designed by Estudio Herreros, as well as a permanent collection of some 28,000 works, it will be one of the largest single-artist museums in the world. In Vienna, Albertina Modern opens on 13 March 2020, providing a home for the extraordinary gift of 60,000 works of modern and contemporary art from the Essl Foundation in 2018. Its opening exhibition – a survey of art in Vienna from 1945–80 – promises to be among the most comprehensive of its kind.
In the US, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is set to open the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building in the autumn, completing a three-year expansion project that will add more than 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, in which the museum will present a new interpretation of its modern and contemporary collections. Site-specific works have been commissioned by artists such as El Anatsui, Olafur Eliasson, and Carlos Cruz-Diez – one of the final works he completed before he died.
Hot on the heels of its first offshoot in New York, Fotografiska – the Swedish centre for contemporary photography – will open its London premises in Whitechapel on 22 February, with seven exhibition spaces and some 89,000 square feet, making it one of the largest photography spaces worldwide. Elsewhere in the UK, The Box in Plymouth is nearing the end of its £40m renovation and expansion, which will see the history of the city retold through a reinterpretation of the museum’s collection, as well as a contemporary extension, courtesy of the architects at Atkins, enabling space for contemporary art exhibitions and touring shows to be held. It is set to reopen in April, with a ceremony commemorating the 400th year since the Mayflower set sail from the Devon coast for America.
Finally, will 2020 see the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza? The largest archaeological museum in the world, with costs running to £1bn, has been delayed year after year since 2015. Perhaps a watched museum never boils.