from historic renovations to record-breaking buildings, 2021 saw a host of exciting museums and cultural venues open to the public. throughout the year we reported on a number of highly-anticipated projects from the likes of tadao ando, frank gehry, renzo piano, david chipperfield, and many more. despite varying briefs and locations, our TOP 10 list of the year’s biggest and best museums are all characterized by bold designs that are set to attract visitors from all over the world.
we continue our annual round up of the year’s BIG stories with a look at the TOP 10 museums and cultural venues featured on designboom in 2021.
image by stefan altenburger
2021 saw the long-awaited opening of the bourse de commerce, debuting the historic structure’s transformation by tadao ando. now home to the pinault collection in paris, the former stock exchange building was transformed by the japanese architect into a museum for businessman and art collector françois pinault. the museum had expected to open in september 2020 but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening date was delayed to may 2021.
image by adrian-deweerdt
in june 2021, frank gehry unveiled the sculptural LUMA arles. the museum occupies a 27-acre creative campus at the parc des ateliers in the city of arles, france. the museum’s opening exhibition showed work by over 45 artists and designers. the tower hosts exhibition galleries, project spaces, and the LUMA’s research and archive facilities, alongside workshop and seminar rooms. the completed structure is defined by its twisting, rippling geometry — finished with 11,000 stainless steel panels — that boldly stands out from the modest fabric of the city.
image by arch-exist
ennead architects completed the world’s largest astronomy museum, set within an expansive green zone in shanghai, china. the monumental new museum, which opened on july 18, 2021, is designed without straight lines or right angles, echoing the geometry of the universe and the dynamic energy of celestial movement. its dynamic form creates an immersive experience that places visitors in direct engagement with real astronomical phenomena.
image by daniel schäfer
located in the port of mahon in menorca, HAUSER & WIRTH opened its latest art center following a two-year conservation project by paris-based argentinian architect luis laplace, a long-standing collaborator of the gallery. the sensitive conservation project repurposed the existing 18th century outbuildings of a naval hospital in the natural setting of the illa del rei island, resulting in the 1,500 sqm kunsthalle. an exhibition by mark bradford inaugurated the space with a dynamic suite of new paintings and sculptures.
image © chen hao
ateliers jean nouvel completed its ‘museum of art pudong’ (MAP) in shanghai, china. occupying a prominent site in the city’s xiaolujiazui riverside district, the massive white granite-clad cultural building boasts more than 10,000 sqm of exhibition space over 13 exhibition halls. the museum‘s inaugural program presented four major exhibitions including tate, miro, and cai guo-qiang.
image by simon menges
david chipperfield architects revealed its refurbishment of mies van der rohe‘s neue nationalgalerie in berlin, which reopened to visitors in august 2021. david chipperfield said about the project,‘taking apart a building of such unquestionable authority has been a strange experience but a privilege. the neue nationalgalerie is a touchstone for myself and many other architects. seeing behind its exterior has revealed both its genius and its flaws, but overall it has only deepened my admiration for mies’ vision.’
image by simon menges
following a four-year construction period, herzog & de meuron completed the extension of the MKM museum küppersmühle in the city of duisburg, germany. clad in a red brick façade, the new extension combines industrial culture with contemporary museum architecture. it comprises three structures of varying heights that harmoniously round off the row of buildings flanking the harbour basin.