Articles and Features

What To Look Forward To In 2021:
New Art Museums Opening This Year

The future position of the M+ museum in Hong Kong. Courtesy of Asia Art Archive in America

By Adam Hencz

Those who are optimistic about 2021 and are missing the physical experience of art, but also those who are seeking new cultural experiences will be delighted to know that some of the world’s most pharaonic cultural developments are reaching the point of physical completion as some of the most anticipated museums are opening their doors to the public later this year. Many of these projects were conceived almost a decade ago, with opening dates pushed back several times, let alone due to the current pandemic. However, the 2021 calendar seems confident, and will bring interactive cultural spaces and exhibitions dedicated to opulent private collections, ancient civilizations, contemporary and visual culture, and will interpret visual art, design, architecture and the moving image by giving space to creative labs, live performances as well as educational initiatives.


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1. Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection, Paris

Opening: 23 January, 2021

A new art museum in Paris opening in 2021.
Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection, Paris

One of France’s richest businessmen François Pinault’s 20-year plan to build a private museum for his impressive contemporary art collection in the heart of Paris is finally realised and set to open to the public on January 23, 2021.
The new contemporary art museum will house and display the Pinault Collection and occupy a prominent place in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, situated between the Louvre and the Pompidou Center. The museum is accommodated in the city’s restored and modernised former stock exchange (hence the name), originally a historical monument with origins as an 18th-century grain exchange. The Bourse de Commerce building was revived by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, incorporating a 30-foot-high concrete cylinder inside the building to become the Bourse’s main exhibition gallery.

2. Frick Madison, New York

Opening: early 2021

A new art museum in New York opening in 2021.
The Frick Collection. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

As one of 2021’s new art museums, the Frick Madison will occupy the Marcel Breuer–designed building on Madison Avenue, New York, formerly home to the Whitney Museum of American Art and most recently The Met Breuer.
The Frick Collection announced details of a two-year installation plan for Frick Madison and will occupy a temporary home while its historic buildings at 1 East 70th Street undergo renovation. The Frick Madison will eschew ornate period rooms and embrace its new Brutalist home for the duration of construction.

3. Humboldt Forum, Berlin

Opening: spring 2021

A new art museum in Berlin opening in 2021.
Humboldt Forum, Berlin © SHF / Stephan Falk

Described as the largest cultural development in Europe, the Humboldt Forum occupies a partial reconstruction of Stadtschloss, a Prussian royal palace designed by Andreas Schlüter on the brink of the 18th century. Damaged during World War II, the palace was demolished and then replaced by the Palace of the Republic, which housed the parliament until 1990, when the parliament building was closed and demolished to make way for the museum. Built around a steel frame with concrete cores, three of the museum’s facades are replicas of the original palace, while the fourth is a modern stone facade designed by Italian architect Franco Stella. The 2021 museum programme includes impressions on Alexander and Wilhelm, the Humboldt Forum’s namesakes as well as contemporary topics like social and environmental change.


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4. Museum of North Vancouver (MONOVA), Vancouver

Opening: Spring 2021

Museum of North Vancouver (MONOVA), Vancouver. Photo: Museum and Archives of North Vancouver/Facebook

Along with the opening of a new purpose-built building, the North Vancouver Museum and Archives also reveals a new visual identity and opens its doors as the Museum of North Vancouver, also known as MONOVA. The rebranding comes as the organization is launching a new fundraising campaign aimed at making sure the activities inside the facility are befitting of its prime location on West Esplanade. Two of the signature pieces of the archive will be fully restored and displayed, namely Streetcar 153 as well as a new cedar panel carving by Squamish Nation artist Wade Baker. The carving depicts the story of Sch’ich’iyuy, the twin sister mountain peaks that settlers later came to call the Lions.

5. Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza

Opening: June 2021

A new art museum in Egypt opening in 2021.
Workers at the newly-built Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza © MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP

Egypt has been building one of the largest museums in the world for almost a decade, at a cost estimated to be US$1 billion. The Grand Egyptian Museum, the GEM, also known as the Giza Museum, designed by Heneghan Peng Architects will cover over 3,500 years of Egyptian history and house more than 50 thousand artefacts, including the complete Tutankhamun collection with many pieces put on display for the first time.
Described as the largest archaeological museum in the world, the GEM is seated on 50 hectares of land approximately two kilometres from the Giza pyramid complex and is part of a new master plan for the Giza Plateau. The design of the museum uses the level difference to construct a new edge to the plateau, a surface defined by a veil of translucent stone that transforms from day to night. The museum was opened for tourists for a short period of time in 2019 but had to be shut down because it became so popular that it slowed down pending construction works. The GEM was set to be complete in the first quarter of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum opening was moved to 2021.

6. The New Munch Museum, Oslo

Opening: Summer 2021

A new art museum in Oslo opening in 2021.
The New Munch Museum in Oslo. Illustration by Estudio Herreros

The world’s largest collection of art by Edvard Munch opens in Oslo’s harbour this summer. Until now, the substantial collection of work by one of Scandinavia’s most famous painters was jammed into a building east of downtown Oslo. The new 13-floor venue will bring almost over 1,200 paintings owned by the museum into the spotlight, with many for the first time. The museum will become one of the world’s biggest institutions dedicated to a single artist. The museum becomes part of Oslo’s waterfront skyline in the area of Bjørvika, a new urban development where the Oslo Opera House is also located.
The building was designed by Spanish firm Estudio Herreros and is made of recyclable concrete and steel, with a facade of translucent, perforated aluminium.

7. Pudong Museum of Art, Shanghai

Opening: mid-2021

Pudong Museum of Art, Shanghai, China

The Pudong Museum of Art, known as PMoA, is a major cultural project in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai. The new art museum will primarily focus on the presentation and exchange of international arts, accompanied by domestic art exhibitions with the aim of establishing itself as an international cultural landmark for Shanghai. London’s Tate Gallery has been a consultant for the Chinese art museum since its announcement in 2017.  Tate has provided PMoA with training and expertise in a number of fields such as visitor services, operations, art handling, exhibition management, audience development, and learning as well as ensuring the inaugural exhibition drawn from its collection. This will be followed by two more exhibitions at PMoA which will bring further works from Tate’s national collection to audiences in China. The building has been designed by Jean Nouvel Architects, whose work also include the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

8. GES-2 Arts Center, Moscow

Opening: second half of 2021

View of the GEM-2 complex from the Bolotnaya Embankment. Photo courtesy by Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW).

Built in 1907, GES-2 is a disused power station overlooking the Moskva River, located in the popular Red October district in the centre of Moscow. Commissioned by the V-A-C Foundation by billionaire Leonid Mikhelson, the new art centre was designed by architect Renzo Piano and hosts an artist residency block, an amphitheatre, an education centre and a library. Artists in the V-A-C collection include Wassily Kandinsky, Gerhard Richter and Christopher Wool. GES-2 plans to open to local audiences with Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s soap opera-inspired Santa Barbara exhibition. The neighbouring former Smirnoff vodka warehouses are aimed to house workshops and laboratories for new generations of Moscow artists and act as the creative centre of the art institution.

9. M+, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong

Opening: late-2021

M+ © Herzog & de Meuron

M+, Hong Kong’s new museum of visual culture situated in the West Kowloon Cultural District will be devoted to 20th and 21st-century visual art, design, architecture, and moving image from Hong Kong, Mainland China and elsewhere in Asia. M+ will be one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world as the architectural form by Herzog & de Meuron will host three cinemas, a lecture theatre, a learning hub, performance spaces, as well as restaurants and cafés with a public roof terrace with views to Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline. The long drawn out plans for the mega 65,000 sqm museum has been a US$2.1 billion development.
The institution with its expanding collection of 8,000 objects and 47,000 archival items is intended to rival Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Construction has reached the point of physical completion and, after more than five years, now focuses on the development of internal fittings, including the installation of the collection and preparing the museum to open its doors later this year.

+1 OTO Sound Museum

Online from 21 January, 2021

OTO Sound Museum

OTO Sound Museum is a new digital art platform designed to host invisible works, and conceived as “an iconoclastic cosmos composed of black and white geometries”. The works constitute a collection of unpublished or recent soundscapes, realised by international artists from different generations and practices. “OTO Sound Museum was born from a desire to reflect on the recent visual phenomenology and is meant to solicit experiences of proximity with what is not visible or distant,” explained the curatorial collective Zaira Oram – interested in experimental displays and interdisciplinary projects – which is behind the museum concept. The museum will also function as a collection and archive of sound works and will support projects live performances and sound installations with its partner institutions.

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