Stunning museums from around the world: 8 architecture that takes your breath away

9 cool museum buildings around the world

To the delight of all architecture geeks, Architectural Digest magazine has put together a collection of cool examples of museum architecture around the world. These buildings have become important objects for their cities and clearly demonstrate that you don’t even have to go inside for a dose of modern art – they are art itself.

The foundation building, which resembles either ice cliffs or sails, was designed by American architect Frank Gehry. The museum is located in the Jardin d’Acclimatation, so in working on the design the architect turned to the traditional glass garden structures that were popular in the 19th century. The translucent facets, for which 3,600 glass panels were used, play with light and reflections, and the huge panoramic windows make the garden almost part of the exhibit. Harvard University recognized it as one of the most interesting examples of modern architecture to study. Inside the building are the most relevant objects of all directions of contemporary art, a public space, a restaurant and a bookstore; on the roof is a garden and another exhibition space.

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Mount Cronplatz, Italy

The Mountaineering Museum was founded by mountaineer Reinhold Messner and was built to the design of the legendary Zaha Hadid on a mountain in South Tyrol, 2,275 meters above sea level. Messner was the first to climb all 14 mountains above 8,000 meters. The museum tells about the history, tradition of mountaineering, its triumphs and tragedies. The structure of the building goes down into the bowels of Mount Kronplatz, the stairs resemble cascading waterfalls, and the huge panoramic windows look out on three sides – exactly as Messner indicated. From one you can see Peitlerkofel peak, from the second – Heiligkreuzkofel, and from the third – Mount Ortler and South Tyrol.

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The sleek wave of the Museo Somaja building houses some 70,000 works of art from the 15th to the 20th centuries, including the world’s largest private collection of Rodin sculptures. The work of the architectural firm Fernando Romero Enterprise can be found in Mexico City at Plaza Carso, whose ensemble, by the way, was designed by the same team. If you look closely at the facade you will notice that it is made of many honeycombs, or more precisely, of 16 thousand mirrored metal elements, thanks to which the building always looks different depending on the time of day, weather and even just depending on where you are standing.

The tricky canopy over Plaza Encarnación in Seville’s historic center is the Metropol Parasol (or Las Setas), an archaeological museum and the most recognizable local landmark. The structure, designed by German architect Jürgen Meyer, has become the largest wooden structure in the world and a great example of how you can fit futuristic things into the urban landscape without annoying anyone. Under the roof there is a spacious and beloved by locals square, a souvenir shop and a bunch of establishments, and for € 3 you can go up to the observation deck.

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The huge museum of contemporary African art is housed in a former granary: it is 42 towers, 33 meters high and 5.5 meters in diameter. Nine floors and more than a hundred galleries are occupied by permanent exhibitions and temporary exhibitions. Some exhibitions are housed in underground tunnels and on the roof. Heatherwick Studio design studio was responsible for the creation of the new space. It is now the largest museum of African art in the world, and it has already been declared “the African answer to the British Tate Modern gallery. The museum has a center for photography, performative arts, and a curatorial training program.

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The 10-story museum complex MAS (Hanzestedenplaats 1) , “Museum on the River,” was built in 2011 near the port. The 60-meter tower has grown on the site of a former warehouse, which was there when Antwerp was an important shipping and trading center. The color of the building also refers to the warehouse, and the idea of storing important trophies and treasures there also rhymes with the port’s past. The intricate design was created by architect Willem Jan Neutelings, and construction took more than 15 years. Today it’s a huge art collection as well as a shipping museum. There is an observation deck on the roof with a gorgeous view of both sides of the river. Admission to the panoramic deck is free, but a ticket to the museum itself costs up to €10.

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The new building of the National Museum of Qatar was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel. The architect was inspired by the “desert rose”, a mineral that crystallizes in the sand. The museum building is unlike any other building in the world, even the most futuristic one. To go around the entire museum, you have to look through 11 galleries – and it’s almost three kilometers of steps. It is an exhaustive account of the history of the peninsula and its modernity. The area around the National Museum of Qatar is as well designed as the main building, with a landscaped park and 114 fountains in the style of Arabic calligraphy.

In 2003 architect Ron Arad was commissioned to build a design museum that would serve as the main platform for local artists, showcase their role in the global context and demonstrate the role of design in the life of a young state. The result is a vibrant, dynamic structure and an important point of attraction for the city. From outside the complex construction is wrapped with metal strips that make it look almost like a sculpture, and inside – the two spacious galleries are the achievements of Israeli design.

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The project was designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The Broad is considered one of the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient buildings, which includes a charging station for electric cars, bicycle parking and a system that collects rainwater on the roof and sends it straight to the garden. This reduces water consumption by 40 percent. Another interesting feature of the museum is the storage location. Unlike most museum buildings, where the vault is hidden in the basements, The Broad has made it as much a part of the museum experience as the main exhibition halls, and placed it right in the center of the building so that it is constantly in view.

At the museum, you can see Yaoi Kusama’s Infinity of Mirrors, sculptures by Michael Jackson, tulips and balloon dogs by Jeff Koons, or a can of Campbell’s soup by Andy Warhol. Visiting the museum is free, but it’s best to register online and show up at your scheduled time so you don’t have to stand in a very long line to get in.

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Photo:, Brad A. Johnson, David Franck,

8 outstanding museum buildings that draw the eye as much as their exhibits

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People go to museums if they want to see something unusual. However, such a pastime does not attract everyone. Only modern trends in architecture allow you to draw attention to the museum not just with one exposition, but also with the exterior. Here are eight fascinating museum buildings, which are as eye-catching as their exhibits.

1. Shanghai Astronomical Museum (China)

You won't believe it's a museum. / Photo:

The Shanghai Astronomical Museum opened its doors only recently, in summer last year. But right away it became a record-breaker: today it is considered to be the largest of its kind on the planet. The size of the complex is really striking – according to the editorial board of, its area is 39,000 square meters. The developer of the project was the architectural bureau Ennead Architects. However, the appearance of the building is more impressive than its scale: it has no straight lines or corners.

The sphere is the jewel of this construction. /Photo:

Designer Thomas J. Wong, one of the authors of the concept, explained the idea as follows: “We wanted to convey through the architecture of the building some fundamental laws of astrophysics. It had to reflect the geometry of the universe.” The general idea is to reflect in the building’s appearance the idea of the constant motion of the universe. The planetarium is the central room of the building and has a spherical shape, which creates the illusion of floating in the air. And in the center of the sphere is a special window called Oculus, which serves as a huge sundial.

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2. The Museum of Modern Art (Cape Town, South Africa)

Recycle into a work of art an old vault is quite realistic. /Photo:

The talent of architects can not only create a unique structure from scratch, but also turn a previously ordinary, gray building into a real masterpiece. That was the story of the Zeitz MOCAA Museum of Contemporary Art in Cape Town. And all because the building where it is located now was originally a former storage for silage – fodder for livestock. The structure was built in the twenties of last century, and originally was a combination of a giant cylindrical storehouses, which stored grain.

It's hard to believe that a former granary could look like this. /Photo:

When they stopped using the building for its intended purpose, it was decided to give it to the Museum of Modern Art. It goes without saying that a team of architects led by the British designer Thomas Heatherwick set out not just to decorate, but also to rebuild the building itself. Their desire was to preserve its original appearance. So they resorted to an unusual technique: they literally cut big holes of different shapes and sizes in cylindrical blocks, which made the look of the initially unremarkable building absolutely amazing, and the space looks different after such transformations.

3. Campus of the Luma International Foundation (Arles, France)

A true masterpiece of steel. /Photo:

At first glance, it may seem that this structure is not real, but painted. However, in reality, it really has already been brought to life. And art is indeed being created in this building: the creative campus of the international Luma Foundation in the French city of Arles was built specifically to bring together artists and innovators of the future who, in collaboration with architects, scientists, and their audiences, can experiment in the creation and presentation of new projects.

A view of the campus from a different angle. /Photo:

The author of such an extraordinary campus was the Canadian architect Frank Gehry. It was he who designed the unique appearance of the tower, which has an area of 15,000 square meters. Its non-standard design it received thanks to the finishing of 11 thousand stainless steel panels. By the way, while designing the building, the architect had a source of inspiration – no matter how unexpected it may sound, but it turned out to be a famous painting masterpiece “Starry Night” by the legendary Van Gogh.

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4. V&A DUNDEE Design Museum (Scotland)

There's a place for modern architecture in the conservative United Kingdom, too. /Photo:

There’s also a place for contemporary architecture in the conservative United Kingdom. /Photo:

For many years Scotland did not have its own design museum, but when they finally decided to build one, no one wanted to see even a traditional building for it. The Japanese architect Kengo Kumu, already world famous in particular for his design for the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, was able to meet the challenge.

The building looks unusual from all sides. /Photo:

The museum was opened just over three years ago – September 15, 2018. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the ceremony. The institution is a branch of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and sometimes it is called the twin of the latter. It is noteworthy that the materials for the building were glass and concrete slabs, but the architect was inspired by nature – the landscapes of the cliffs on the east coast of Scotland.

5. Museum of the future (Dubai, UAE)

It's hard to believe that this is even a building. /Photo:

There is no need to argue that Dubai has long been the center of modern architecture. But usually the city is associated with its highest skyscrapers. Now, however, they are diluted with a unique-looking “Museum of the Future” seven floors high, or 77 meters, and an area of 30 thousand square meters. The building has state-of-the-art technology both inside and out: the facade was assembled in a year and a half from 1024 plates, and each was installed separately. The interior has a modern look due to the design and the use of appropriate technology, such as capsule elevators.

At any time of day the museum looks fascinating. /Photo:

But it is the facade of the building that is the most interesting, not counting the expositions. It is decorated with Arabic calligraphy by Mattar bin Lahejem, an Emirati artist. More than just words, the structure features quotations by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. For example, one can find the following statement: “The future belongs to those who can imagine, design and build it. The future is not waiting, it can be realized today. Despite the fact that the structure was completed last year, it has already managed to take a place in the ranking of the most beautiful museum buildings in the world.

6. National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, USA)

A building whose design has a hidden meaning. /Photo:

At first glance, the three-story building of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., might not seem so unconventional. However, if one delves deeper into the symbolism of its design, it becomes clear that this is not the case. In fact, the shape of the structure resembles a traditional African crown, and the walls are finished not just with a relief bronze lattice – it is decorated with ornamental patterns referring to African-American craftsmanship.

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Ornaments on the building are special. /Photo:

According to the architects, in order not just to copy African ornamentation, but specifically African-American, they undertook a study of archaeological finds from American cities – Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans – that were presumably created by enslaved Africans. The museum was opened five years ago, and 44 U.S. President Barack Obama attended the ceremony and gave a speech. The exhibit tells the story of African Americans in the United States, from the era of slavery to today.

7. Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art (Bilbao, Spain)

One of the most famous buildings in the museum. /Photo:

Architect Frank Gehry’s creative legacy has always been distinguished by the eye-catching design of his buildings in the deconstructivist style. Among his famous works we can recall, in particular, the famous “dancing house” in Prague. But it is the Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art in Spanish Bilbao that is considered the gem of his work. And originally Gehry was tasked with simply reconstructing the dilapidated house of culture and convert it into a museum.

For almost a quarter of a century people have been arguing about what the building looks like. /Photo:

But the architect was not satisfied with such an idea, and therefore implemented a completely unique idea. Not only he used unusual building materials: titanium, glass and even sandstone, but also gave the building such a shape that many are still arguing what it looks like – a bird, an airplane, a blooming rose or an artichoke. The architect himself was inspired by the idea of a futuristic ship. The building, opened in 1997, was so impressive that it almost immediately earned architect Philip Johnson the title of “the greatest building of our time”.

8. Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre (Baku, Azerbaijan)

Postmodern in ancient Baku. /Photo:

The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is located on the Heydar Aliyev Avenue in the capital of Azerbaijan. The author of this extraordinary complex structure was the legendary Zaha Hadid. She also received the Design of the Year Award from the Design Museum in London in 2014, becoming the first woman to receive it. One of the award’s panelists commented on the structure: “It’s an intoxicatingly beautiful building by a brilliant architect at the height of his career. It is as innocent and sexy as Marilyn Monroe’s windswept skirt.

A building magnificent in its elegance. /Photo:

Inside the cultural center there is room not only for a museum but also for a congress center, exhibition rooms, as well as administrative offices. A special charm of the building is given by the whitish-white color of the facade and almost total absence of straight lines, which are replaced by undulating forms. In this way the architect has decided not only to show the post-modernist style of architecture, but also to reflect the endless flow of time.

And here is an entertaining video about the architectural masterpiece of the past from our channel:

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