Art Market

The Buzziest and Most Beautiful Museums Opening in 2019

Benjamin Sutton
Jan 18, 2019 10:17PM

The museum building boom shows no signs of slowing down in 2019. In the coming year, institutions around the world are scheduled to either throw open their doors for the first time, or unveil spruced-up and expanded facilities. While some of these projects involve global institutions—like the Museum of Modern Art, or a grand plan for a replacement for Cairo’s Egyptian Museum—others will have a more regional impact.

Here’s a look ahead at the museum construction projects that will have the art world buzzing in the months to come.

Ruby City

Architect: David Adjaye

Budget: $16 million

Total space: 14,000 square feet

Planned opening: October 2019

The Linda Pace Foundation/Ruby City. Courtesy of the Linda Pace Foundation and Adjaye Associates.

The new home of San Antonio’s Linda Pace Foundation is an irregularly shaped, tapering, cantilevering, bright-red building designed by David Adjaye and aptly named Ruby City. It may seem small at just 14,000 square feet, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character, with its dramatic lines and subtly shifting planes of red rippling over the building’s exterior and into the adjacent plaza. It’s sure to not only provide a beautiful home for the foundation’s robust, 800-work-strong collection of contemporary art, but also help cement San Antonio’s place on the art world’s map.

Museum of Modern Art expansion

Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with Gensler

Budget: $450 million

Additional space: 107,600 square feet

Planned opening: 2019

MoMA expansion rendering. © 2017 Diller Scofidio + Renfro.


As the Museum of Modern Art enters its 90th year, it is also in the home stretch of its second major expansion in as many decades. This one, masterminded by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, involves not only overhauling many of the institution’s existing exhibition spaces, but also extending the galleries on its second, fourth, and fifth floors into the Jean Nouvel–designed skyscraper that is nearing completion next-door. The expansion will also add new public galleries on the museum’s ground floor. However, the true test of the expansion’s success will be whether or not it eases the institution’s near-constant overcrowding problem.

National Museum of Qatar

Architect: Jean Nouvel

Budget: $434 million

Total space: 560,000 square feet

Planned opening: March 28, 2019

Aerial view of the upcoming National Museum of Qatar designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Photo by Iwan Baan.

Jean Nouvel will continue to put his stamp on the Arabian peninsula’s art scene this year. After the opening of his Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017, the UAE’s Qatari neighbors are set to inaugurate the French architect’s latest, the National Museum of Qatar, in March. The sprawling complex wraps around the historic Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani (the son of the founder of modern Qatar), which was restored as part of the project, leading visitors on a nearly mile-long trajectory through the region’s history. The museum will include newly commissioned works by Qatari painter Ali Hassan, Iraqi sculptor Ahmed Al Bahrani, Syrian sculptor Simone Fattal, and others. Its distinctive form, with interlocking disks clad in sand-colored concrete, takes inspiration from the shape of crystal clusters known as “desert roses.”

The Shed

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with collaborating architect Rockwell Group

Budget: $550 million

Total space: 200,000 square feet

Planned opening: April 5, 2019

The Shed under construction, as seen from the High Line, 2018. Photo by Brett Beyer. Courtesy of The Shed.

Retractable roofs have been a prevalent design feature of sport stadiums for some time now, but The Shed is perhaps the first cultural space to incorporate such whiz-bang engineering. Its movable shell can be rolled out to create a 17,000-square-foot interior performance and event space, or retracted to fit snugly over the institution’s six-story building, transforming the enclosed atrium back into an outdoor plaza. That main building will also contain a performance space and two large galleries totaling 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, which will open with a show from Trisha Donnelly. Other inaugural commissions include a theatrical concert developed by Icelandic singer and songwriter Björk, a kung-fu musical, and a five-night tribute to African-American music conceived by Turner Prize–winning filmmaker Steve McQueen. Situated alongside the High Line and Thomas Heatherwick’s stepped whatsit, The Shed promises to bring some culture to the Hudson Yards mega-development transforming Manhattan’s west side.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop, with contribution by Studio Pali Fekete architects

Budget: $388 million

Total space: 300,000 square feet

Planned opening: Late 2019

The Academy of Motion Pictures. Courtesy of The Academy of Motion Pictures.

It’s somewhat shocking that Los Angeles doesn’t already have a major museum devoted to the art form it revolutionized. The body that gives out the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is making up for that with what’s shaping up to be an otherworldly Renzo Piano–designed complex right next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will span the historic Saban Building—a former department store in the Streamline Moderne style that is getting a full restoration—and a dramatic, spherical building sprouting out its back. The complex will house two cinemas, as well as 50,000 square feet of exhibition space that will show off items including Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939), the typewriter used to write the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), and an 1887 collotype plate of a galloping horse by Eadweard Muybridge. Fans of animation are also in for a treat: The Academy Museum’s inaugural special exhibition is a Hayao Miyazaki retrospective.

Grand Egyptian Museum

Architect: Heneghan Peng Architects

Budget: $810 million

Total space: About 1.4 million square feet

Planned opening: First quarter of 2019 (partial opening)

Aerial view of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). Courtesy the Ministry of Antiquities of Egypt.

Putting “grand” in a museum’s name may seem a bit, well, grandiose, but there’s nothing restrained about this project. Intended as a replacement for the overcrowded Egyptian Museum in central Cairo, the Grand Egyptian Museum is situated less than two miles from the Giza Pyramids, and, when completed, will span an astounding 1.4 million square feet (for comparison, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is 2 million square feet). The museum’s construction timeline has been quite grand, too—its foundation stone was laid in 2002—but the build-out is finally in the home stretch, and is slated for a partial opening in the first quarter of 2019. Once the whole complex is up and running, it will be able to accomodate 15,000 daily visitors, who will enter its exhibition spaces through the “grand staircase,” a chronological encapsulation of ancient Egyptian history populated with 87 statues and architectural elements.

Peabody Essex Museum expansion

Architect: Ennead Architects

Budget: $200 million

Additional space: 40,000 square feet

Planned opening: Mid-2019

The Peabody Essex Museum's expansion rendering. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM).

Located alongside the historic East India Marine Hall (dedicated in 1825) in Salem, Massachusetts, the Peabody Essex Museum’s new wing will add 15,000 square feet of galleries and a new museum garden, while a new sun-splashed atrium will connect the old and new buildings. The $200 million expansion project is just one element of a $650 million capital campaign that also involved building a 120,000-square-foot offsite facility, which opened in July 2018, to store and study the museum’s 1.8 million-piece collection.

Norton Museum of Art expansion

Architect: Norman Foster

Budget: $100 million

Additional space: 12,700 square feet

Planned opening: February 9, 2019

The Norton Museum of Art's new Heyman Plaza designed by Foster + Partners. Image courtesy of Foster + Partners.

While an additional 12,700 square feet may not sound like a big deal, especially considering the $100 million price tag of the Norton Museum of Art’s new Norman Foster–designed building, the project involved overhauling much of the West Palm Beach, Florida, institution’s existing spaces, too. All told, when it reopens next month, the Norton will have its education facilities expanded by 50 percent, along with 35 percent more exhibition space—making it easier to put on view some of the new 100 works in its holdings donated by local collectors Howard L. and Judie Ganek. In addition to the revamped interior, visitors to the Norton will now enter under a dramatically cantilevering canopy and be able to stroll in a new sculpture garden.

Hood Museum of Art expansion

Architect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

Budget: $50 million

Additional space: 22,400 square feet

Planned opening: January 26, 2019

Artist rendering of the north facade of the expanded Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College. Rendering by MARCH. Image courtesy of the Hood Museum.

Harvard, Princeton, and Yale may have world-renowned museums, but one of the smaller Ivies, Dartmouth College, also has an impressively rich collection at its Hood Museum of Art. That building is about to unveil a much-needed expansion and renovation project, courtesy of Barnes Foundation architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien. The firm’s overhaul of Charles Moore’s postmodern 1985 building will add six more galleries, or an increase of 42 percent in exhibition space, plus a new lobby, three new study galleries, and a huge vitrine window facing the campus green, offering students a glimpse into the museum as they walk between classes.

The New Orleans Museum of Art Besthoff Sculpture Park Expansion

Architect: Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects and Lee Ledbetter Architects

Budget: $15 million

Additional space: 6 acres

Planned opening: May 15, 2019

Rendering of the expanded Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Courtesy of the New Orleans Museum of A

The New Orleans Museum of Art’s picturesque sculpture garden, which connects the museum to the historic City Park surrounding it, is one of the institution’s star attractions. For years, the 5-acre park has displayed works by Coosje van Bruggen & Claes Oldenburg, Arman, Isamu Noguchi, René Magritte, Barbara Hepworth, and others amid lagoons, canals, and oak and cypress trees laden with Spanish moss. Now the park is set to more than double in size, as it expands to a lagoon just north of the museum. In addition to plenty more sculptures, the new stretch of park will boast an outdoor amphitheater and a small gallery building.

Benjamin Sutton

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated that Sawyer/Berson Architecture and Landscape Architecture collaborated on the design for the New Orleans Museum of Art Besthoff Sculpture Park expansion and did not include Reed Hilderbrand as an architect. The text has been updated to reflect these changes.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019