Museums of the 21st Century: Concepts, Projects, Buildings at the Art Gallery of Alberta

The Art Gallery of Alberta is proud to present the national premiere and only Canadian stop for the exhibition Museums of the 21st Century: Concepts, Projects, Buildings, running September 19-December 13, 2009.


Conceptualized, organized and circulated by the Art Centre Basel in Switzerland, this exhibition is a survey of 27 of the most important museums projects that have been conceived, planned and built in the early part of the 21st century in four continents. Represented by sketches, architectural plans, photographs and models, these projects highlight the diverse personalities and limitless imaginations of the world’s leading architects.


The design of museums in recent years has been—and still is—radically changing. From the “out of this world” biomorphic structure of the Kunsthaus Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, in Graz, Austria (Spacelab Cook-FournierGmbH), which stands in contrast to its surroundings, to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre and Interpretive Museum in Wiltshire, UK (Denton Corker Marshall), which is nearly indivisible from its landscape, Museums of the 21st Century traces the innovations and transformative possibilities of new museum architecture.


Museums are shifting from traditional forms to flexible and accessible spaces, accommodating both visitors and new forms of art. And, as the buildings are changing, so is the role of museum in the public sphere. Museum can serve as catalysts for economic revival or as urban landmarks and community gathering spots.


“It is an ideal moment for the AGA to host this exhibition as we are preparing for the opening of our new building. This exhibition, and the new vision for the AGA, demonstrates the important and profound links that can be articulated through the relationship of a museum’s program and its architecture,” says the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Chief Curator, Catherine Crowston.


In conjunction with Museums in the 21st Century, the AGA also presents two other architecture-focused exhibitions, both curated by the AGA. Building a Vision: Art Gallery of Alberta and Randall Stout Architects, running September 5–December 13, 2009, charts the imagining and construction of Randall Stout Architects’ new Art Gallery of Alberta. From the Gallery’s history to Stout’s design inspiration found in our city’s urban grid and North Saskatchewan River valley, this compilation of materials gives insight into the evolution of the new AGA building. See the progression of the building from initial conceptual sketches and diagrams to pictures, models, and photographs captured throughout construction. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with a major public talk by AGA architect Randall Stout, entitled Randall Stout Presents: The New Art Gallery of Alberta, which takes place on Saturday, September 19 at 2:00pm at the Winspear. Tickets are $10 and are available now through the AGA.


Also featured this fall and highlighting Canada’s contribution to this global boom, is Canadian Museums Now, running September 19-December 13, 2009. This exhibition includes contributions from the recently opened Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum and the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and the new Canadian Museum of Human Rights where construction recently broke ground in Winnipeg.