Why is it important to look at the architecture of the museums too? – The Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in comparison to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

Yesterday we spoke briefly about the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin (you can find the article here), and last week we had three episodes on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (here are part 1, part 2 and part 3). Both these museums have a very particular architecture, but for two different reasons: the Hamburger Bahnhof was originally a train station, and then was readapted to be a museum, while the Guggenheim Museum was made by a contemporary architect to be a contemporary art museum since its birth.

The architecture of a contemporary art museum must be part of your visit, and you should link it to the exposed art. In fact, the display of the works and the place they are put in are the result of a precise choice most of the times.

In the case of the Hamburger Bahnhof, it is clearly a mixture between a contemporary architecture and an old architecture, it reminds us to the industrial revolution and the first fairs. In fact, those metal structures and that big empty space in the center are meant to give this idea. The permanent collection comes from the 50s, so it is not so actual, as well as the architecture. It contains works by Beuys, by Warhol, by Lichtestein: all works that reflect on the change in society since the industrial revolution, with the advertising, the comics, and the relationship with nature. This gives a hint on how the museum was conceived, giving a special light to the collection in a social point of view.

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao has an ad hoc architecture, built to impress the visitors and to give a different view of the whole collection. The collection put together by Peggy Guggenheim is one of the biggest collections in the world, it has three different museums in three different countries, and the architecture wants to remind us the importance of it and the importance of the collector herself.

Keep an eye on the architecture the next time you visit a museum!

– M.C.

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