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Design and Architecture of Art Galleries Essay

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In what ways and for what reasons have the architecture and designs of art museums and galleries evolved since the mid-twentieth century?

In exploring and understanding this subject, one must study the history and development of individual museums and galleries, observing the exterior architecture as well as the internal design, and the reasons behind any developments or renovations done to the buildings. In addition to this the location of the museum must be considered, to see if the surrounding architecture influences any modernisation or extensions taken out on the buildings, as well as considering the expectations and ideas of different cultures, and how they might manipulate the evolution of such places over the past fifty years.

For an example of how a medieval building has evolved into a modern day art museum, the Louvre is an ideal illustration. Once a medieval fortress in the 11th century, then renovated into a luxury dwelling in 1528 by François Ier, was extended under Henri II and Charles IX with the addition of two new wings which occupy two sides of the old strong castle. Now the Louvre is a massive building of classical architecture which offers approximately 60 000 m² showrooms.

The Louvre is also a symbol of how art viewing has become accessible for all people, whatever their class or education level. Many years ago, when art was considered elite, the royal collection of art was not viewed by just anyone, only a privileged few entered the doors of the palace on invitation of the king to view the artworks held inside. Now, it is of the uppermost importance for the Louvre to be as welcoming and to display the huge collection of art to its best for all the public, local or tourists. A sy...


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...pe, but totally unsuitable for another. For example trying to display contemporary art in the Grande Louvre would just not work, such a building of age, history, ornamentation and architectural detail, needs in turn to lend its surroundings to artworks of similar magnitude. What all museums have in common, in the past fifty years is that they are trying to make art more approachable, and to leave its elitist characterisation behind. The evolution of art museums and galleries has run parallel with modernist attitudes towards art itself, and it materialises that it was unavoidable that such changes took place. Although in doing this they have not in anyway lost sight of what is appropriate in displaying various works in a comfortable environment for both the artworks and the visitors. Art, architecture and design reflect changing attitudes and run together hand in hand.


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