The National Portrait Gallery in London closed one set of doors in July 2020, and on 22 June 2023 it will open another. Its main entrance is now situated on Ross Place, looking north on to Charing Cross Road over a new forecourt as part of a multi-million renovation by Jamie Fobert Architects that has been described as the most significant in its history. Inside, the galleries have been comprehensively refurbished and rehung, allowing for a new interpretation of British portrait painting from the Tudors to the present day. A new suite of nine galleries opens, named the Blavatnik Wing, focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries.
In Edinburgh, ambitious plans to transform the Scottish National Gallery will come to fruition in the summer. A large-scale landscaping project will provide better access to the museum from the adjoining Princes Street Gardens, while inside a number of new, daylit galleries will show the collections both of Scottish and international art to better advantage. The renovation will also allow for more early 20th-century works to be on display.
The Manchester Museum is among the largest university museums in the UK, and it has just got bigger. In February it reopens after a £15m redevelopment by Purcell architects, including a two-storey extension to the neo-Gothic structure designed by Alfred Waterhouse at the end of the 19th century. New displays will focus on fostering connections with local communities – the new South Asia Gallery, for instance, has been curated by a collective that includes community leaders, educators and artists, and will explore connections between South Asia and Britain through history, with a focus on local contemporary experience.
European institutions slated to open this year include, in Berlin, the latest outpost of the Swedish centre for contemporary photography, Fotografiska, which moves into the former site of the Tacheles artists’ squat in Berlin. In Turkey, Renzo Piano’s new home for Istanbul Modern is expected to open in 2023, although no date has been set, while in Bengaluru the Museum of Art & Photography – home to some 18,000 works donated by its founder, Abhishek Poddar – will finally open in February in a stylish, steel-clad structure by Matthew & Ghosh.
In the United States, a number of long-awaited projects will be realised next year. Chief among them is the International African American Museum, slated to open in the first half of 2023 after more than two decades of planning. It is situated on the shore that was once Gadsden’s Wharf, Charleston, where nearly half of all African slaves brought to America disembarked. Pei Cobb Freed and Partners’ impressive one-storey structure is raised 13 feet from the ground on rows of cylindrical columns, creating a large space beneath the museum that is intended to represent, in the architects’ words, ‘the heart of the site’s collective memory’. Inside, displays of art and objects explore the history of African American culture.
Elsewhere in America, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery – among the oldest art institutions in the United States, having opened in 1862 – is reopening with a new name in May. The Buffalo AKG Art Museum has undergone a $230m renovation and expansion project courtesy of OMA/Shohei Shigematsu, and now boasts more than 50,000 square feet of exhibition space. Meanwhile, in New York, the Met is slated to complete the refurbishment of the European Paintings Galleries it began back in 2018. By November, more than 30,000 square feet of old skylights will have been replaced, allowing for the Met’s stellar collection of some 700 Old Master paintings to be presented throughout 21 refurbished galleries.
Finally, will this be the year of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo? At the time of writing there is no ‘official’ announcement as to the date. Time alone will tell – but given that the opening of the billion-dollar behemoth has been pushed back in each of the last four years, it’s probably safest not to hold one’s breath.