Building Type Basics for Museums
by Arthur Rosenblatt, FAIA and Stephen A. Kliment, FAIA
After a period of decline, reflecting stagnant public interest in viewing art and in expressing cultural heritage, museum construction took a sharp upturn in the 1980s as the public in the United States and overseas took a new interest in that heritage.
The result was the building of a gargantuan volume of museums of every type, character, and size. And converting this consciousness into bricks and mortar became a lot easier as the economies in many nations, especially in the United States, flourished, making ample dollars available to sustain the trend.
The cycle is unlikely to end any time soon. Even modest sized communities see it as a matter of pride to possess a museum of some sort, whether it is to display art or the sciences, express a strong local ethnic birthright, or to serve as a habitat for plants and animals.
Two vital components in this upsurge of interest in museums have been, and will continue to be, pressures to retrofit existing museums for climate, lighting, and security, and to build additions to museums — some of them almost rivaling their original structure in size — to accommodate the vast upsurge in the size and range of collections.
Every designer and museum board member recognizes that today's museum is no longer just a place for art cognoscenti to gather and admire art. On the contrary, the typical museum of the 20th century became a bustling combination of destination site and tourist attraction.
This article is excerpted from Building Type Basics for Museums by Arthur Rosenblatt, FAIA and Stephen A. Kliment, FAIA, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.