The best design museums opening in 2020 are very different from each other, but they have one thing in common: Each has been built and reconstructed with the goal of having its spaces first serve the art and artifacts within. From the much-anticipated Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs to London’s beloved Museum of the Home, these are the best design museums debuting this year that are worth visiting.
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center — Oklahoma City
The Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center located at State Fair Park, ignites creativity through exhibitions, performances and public programming. It was designed by Rand Elliott Architects to reflect the unique quality of light and sky in the region. This home for design exhibition, education and performance will be free and open to the public. It will support all forms of contemporary art and will have educational programs including classes in ceramics, woodworking, sculpture, painting, and drawing. New digital media, multiple smaller galleries, and specialized spaces for the intersection of wellness and crafts make it a multidisciplinary venue. A 10,000-square-foot warehouse is dedicated to long-standing signature programs including ceramics. Doors open mid-March.
He Art Museum (HEM) — Foshan City, China
HEM is a museum complex located in the Shunde new business district of Foshan, Guangdong Province, China. It is founded by a world-renowned entrepreneur who dedicates this project to his hometown by providing an institution that combines modern art with local and historical heritages. HEM, stands for HE ( Chinese character 和, to mean harmonious) Museum embodies its founder’s wishes – to provide a harmonious life through sharing of art and culture. From the architectural design to the craftsmanships on the details, are presented through a variety of circles. This is an attempt to create a new culture center that integrates Cantonese culture by extracting the unique meaning of its geometric form in the regional context. The museum, designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando, opens in March.
U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame — Colorado Springs
This tribute museum to the Olympic and Paralympic movements, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, provides a glimpse into the holistic journey of an athlete, with Team USA at the center of the story. Team USA athletes were involved and consulted throughout the entire project; a good example of this collaboration is the Parade of Nations gallery. The building’s exterior features nearly 10,000 individual diamond panels, no two the same size or shape. All of the exhibits are permanent, except for one gallery that will change based on Olympic and Paralympic milestones. The $90 million museum opens later in February and is already considered the most accessible museum in the world.
The Grand Egyptian Museum — Giza, Egypt
Located between the pyramids and Cairo, the Grand Egyptian Museum (also known as the Giza Museum), designed by the architectural firm Heneghan Peng, features a spectacular view of the Pyramids of Giza. A veil of translucent stone is one of the notable design features. Visitors enter through a stunning frontcourt and ascend a grand staircase to the plateau level, which features an exhibition space the size of four football fields. It includes a children’s museum and huge gardens, and visitors will be able to see the Tutankhamen collection in its entirety for the first time: more than 5,000 artifacts associated with British archaeologist Howard Carter’s discovery of young King Tut’s tomb.
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures — Los Angeles
Opening soon, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures celebrates the art and science of movies—past, present, and future. Its exhibitions and programs will convey the magic of cinema and offer a glimpse behind the screen, illuminating the creative and collaborative process of filmmaking. The Museum will seek to inspire, entertain, and educate all visitors about the rich history of motion pictures and their essential role in our culture. On the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, in the heart of Los Angeles, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano is restoring and re-envisioning the historic 1939 May Company department store.
Narbo Via — Narbonne, France
The Roman port of Narbonne in southern France, one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, boasts an impressive array of archaeological sites and buildings. A new landmark building designed by Foster + Partners will open this summer as the region’s Museum of Antiquities: an archaeological museum with a design inspired by formal French gardens and the Roman courtyard. The centerpiece of the museum is a collection of more than 1,000 ancient stone relief funerary blocks excavated nearby. The building incorporates galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, a multimedia education center and a library, as well as restoration and storage facilities.
Planet Word Museum — Washington, D.C.
Planet Word is a museum with a mission: to inspire a love of words and language. Indeed the very strength of our democracy depends upon having a literate population that can understand and address today’s complex issues. Planet Word will introduce visitors to the power and fun and beauty of words. Through unique, immersive, even magical experiences, they’ll discover the richness of the world’s languages and how words shape our lives, our decisions, and our relationships. The museum officially opens on May 31.
Kyocera Museum of Art — Kyoto, Japan
The Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art is the last in this list of best design museums opening in 2020. Originally opened in 1933 as the Kyoto Enthronement Memorial Museum of Art. In 2019, it marked 86 years as a leading Japanese public art museum. The inaugural exhibition commemorating the opening of the renovated Museum in 2020 is a comprehensive survey of Kyoto Art. It presents an unprecedented number of masterpieces from the Museum collection and from a number of other collections in Japan.