However, unlike the tacked on bathroom, art museums have a certain duty to consider their existing, albeit often quite outdated and grandiose, architecture as they expand...or at least one would think (and hope) this might be the case. Sadly, like the proverbial elephant (that appears to have been put together by a rather discordant committee), the vast majority of these expansion efforts, according to architectural historian Victoria Newhouse (no pun intended), also bear similar traits. And the culprit often is the discordant committee more intent on square footage and dollars than architectural sense.
|The Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain, 1997,|
Frank Gehry, architect.
The new wing, lower left, is virtually invisible.
In her book, Toward a New Museum, Miss Newhouse cites only four of the dozens of almost constantly expanding art museum worldwide that have successfully grown with any kind of architectural compatibility with their existing structures. Among the successes, The Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, the The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Yale University Art Gallery and the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany. On the other hand, she turns thumbs down to what she calls "wings that don't fly" such as recent expansions to many New York museums--The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Louvre in Paris. She especially takes issue with the glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre, terming it an entrance through the basement and a gauntlet of gift shops.
|The Guggenheim Museum, New York. Although|
designed as a passive backdrop for the Wright
masterpiece, the massive new addition instead
towers over it and contrasts sharply with the
curvilinear lines of of the original structure.