Designing a New Museum

Designing a New Museum

According to architectural critic Paul Goldberger, "Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum in New York forever altered the way people conceived of the modern museum.... More than any other postwar building [it] provided the example of the art museum as a magnetic, highly sculptural presence." (Guggenheim Magazine, Fall 1999, p. 45). Recent decades have seen a great increase both in the number of museums and the ways in which they are designed resulting in museums that are as important architecturally as for the art they contain.

Suggested Activity

Ask students to research on the internet some of the dramatic museum buildings that have opened to the public in recent decades. Some suggestions include:

  • The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (Spain), Frank Gehry, Architect
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Richard Meier, Architect
  • The Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (France), Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers, Architects

The book Toward a New Museum by Victoria Newhouse provides a compendium of trends in museum architecture worldwide.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City was designed to exhibit a new type of art (non-objective art) in an innovative way. Ask your students what type of museum collection they would like to visit.

Some possibilities are:
Snow Boarding, Wrestling, Chairs, Televisions and Radios, Rock and Roll, Science Fiction, Fast Food, Fashion, Computers, Pets.

Students should feel free to choose their own theme for the collection.

List and describe some of the objects that would be part your exhibition.

  • How would you want people to experience these objects?
  • What would be the first object that visitors would encounter?
  • What would the outside of the building look like? What would it be made from?
  • How would you move through the gallery spaces?

Encourage students to create a few quick sketches for a museum design to house their unique collection. Have them discuss their drawings and get feedback on their ideas.

Next, have students create three-dimensional scale models of their revised design. Provide materials with interesting shapes and textures, including small pieces of wood, packing materials, cardboard, plastic cups, Mylar, acetate, paperclips, foil, glue, and tape.

When the drawings and models are complete, students should present their designs to the class.

On View

This presentation, comprised of selected materials from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Archives, pays homage to the first Frank Lloyd Wright–designed structures in New York City.

Works & Process

Photo: Petrus Sjövik

The world's great artists want to show you how they work. Works & Process provides extraordinary access to artists and intellectuals, blending performance and discussion about the creative process. Subscribe to e-news for updates and special offers.


Midwinter Break Camp
Monday–Friday, February 15–19, 9:30 am–4 pm

In this exciting five-day vacation camp, kids will focus on building and improving their creative skills through gallery and studio explorations with teaching artists.

More events

At the Carpet Shop, 1979. From Sausage Series, 1979

Lesson Plans
for Teachers

Develop lesson plans for the exhibition Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better using the free Arts Curriculum Online.

Become a Member
Join theGuggenheim membership

Enjoy priority access, private exhibition views, free admission, and more. Become a member.