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Why is religious architecture so often good and museum architecture so often terrible?

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by mordecai, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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    This question has produced a lively discussion on my facebook wall, but I thought I would continue it here.
    What is the cause? SFMOMA is hideous. MoCA is only better because less of it sticks out of the ground. The LACMA campus looks like shit and makes no sense. Hammer is just a domino box, and if the Norton Simon didn't have the sign it could easily be mistaken for an abandoned Robinsons-May.

    Is it a proselytizing thing? Churches and mosques want to bring people in whereas museums want most people to stay out? This would explain the crappy architecture of most synagogues.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  2. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    i have no dog in this fight but i will agree with you. every church is beautiful and every museum, save the Soumaya in Mexico City, has been a clusterfuck.
     
  3. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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    Not true. The LA cathedral is so ugly that if it didn't have the cross I would think it was part of the nearby contemporary art museum.
     
  4. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    well, i'm not a gentile, so my only experience is visiting churches in central america. and, since there is literally one on every block, i only go to the famously beautiful ones. so my experience could certainly be skewed.
     
  5. StephenHero

    StephenHero Senior member

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    Because church architecture is its own endgame of aesthetic pursuit. It's not burdened to facilitate suitable display for things that might be held within it temporarily, which lets it pursue stylized/non-functional means of beautifucation with more permanent materials and noticeable detailing, whereas museum architecture is burdened to accommodate things that are both aesthetically divergent, and experientially hegemonic, which will always cause museums to defer on the side of versatile banality to prevent conflicts. There are also the logistics of art hanging and necessary wall types that allow affordable adaptations of exhibition spaces, or lighting control which will generally force museums to control natural daylight oppressively. With that said, I think museums are often far too formal and conservative in their gallery arrangements, and especially conservative in the surface materials they're willing to arrange art on. I would put Labelking in charge of fixing this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  6. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    Went to the museum of western art in Ueno recently, done by le Corbusier - it too was functional, at best. A bit of a letdown.
     
  7. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    Looks pretty awesome to me. I've enjoyed Barnes in Philadelphia and Uffizi in Florence.
     
  8. akatsuki

    akatsuki Senior member

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    Or to put it simply: museums need flex-space that can accommodate many different types of displays.

    As to the formal/conservative critique: in a museum, the focus should be on the art, not on the building.
     
  9. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    the islamic art museum in Qatar is about the best museum building in the world, as far as I am concerned.

    in general, though, I would agree with you.

    my wife was a museum currator when we met, at a pretty good museum. I remmeber one of the things that she said to me early on "we don't do art, we document it, study it, catalogue it, make it available for people, but we aren't artists." the people who run museums aren't artistic, and they probably don't hire the right people to make the buildings.
     
  10. Mark from Plano

    Mark from Plano Senior member

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    This threak is worthless without pics:

    The Kimball, Ft. Worth, Texas, USA (Louis Kahn, Building opened 1972)
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas, USA (Renzo Piano, Opened 2003)
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, USA (Moshe Safdie, Opened 2011)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  11. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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  12. Mark from Plano

    Mark from Plano Senior member

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    I'm looking at this out my hotel window right now.
     
  13. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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    welcome to town. what are you here for?
     
  14. Mark from Plano

    Mark from Plano Senior member

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    As we say in Texas, biddness.
     
  15. Catallas

    Catallas Member

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    Too many words, and, in the end, it isn't even true. Many nice museums used to be old buildings or historical architecture...say the Hagia Sophia.

    Lots of new museums are made by brands and use starchitects...they are still intended to be statements, like religious architecture might be, but are usually not so good at displaying art anyways. So it is not just the case that museums need to display things and hence are bound to be less aesthetically pleasing.
     
  16. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    People tend to prefer older designed things to newer designs of things. Most churches worth mentioning were built 150+ years ago. Most museums were built less than 150 years ago.
     
  17. Catallas

    Catallas Member

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    This 150+ year ago rule that you have created, is this based on your broad religious architectural knowledge?

    I don't like the cut of your jib, keep your puny lapels and skin tight trousers away from my peoples.
     
  18. sugarbutch

    sugarbutch Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    This is Denver, right? I'm not deeply familiar with his work, but I've not yet seen anything from him that wasn't ARCHITECTURE[​IMG].
     
  19. Trompe le Monde

    Trompe le Monde Senior member

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    vienna natural history museum... check it out
     
  20. Van Veen

    Van Veen Senior member

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    Cleveland Museum of Art's new atrium. Breathtaking in person. The image doesn't do it justice. (For scale, the "wall" on the left is the back outside wall of the original museum building.)

    [​IMG]

    Original building.

    [​IMG]

    North wing (1971).

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2012

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