M.Arch Thesis

Necessary and Necessarily Removed: the Entry Sequence to the Art Museum”

In the last few decades, the art museum has emerged as the most visited cultural institution in the West with visitor populations steadily growing.[i] The New York Times reported that the 1990s saw “the broadest, grandest, most ambitious museum boom” in history.[ii] Museums have positioned themselves as a cultural resource, which rapidly takes its place alongside positions traditionally held by economics and politics.[iii] In addition, museums are part of a growing cultural economy used to brand cities with their progressive architecture. They have become increasingly important institutions expected to contribute to a global tourist agenda.[iv] Therefore, the museum holds significance and power as a place of cultural, societal and economic benefit.

The museum has experienced notoriety in the last two decades is a result of its most recent shift in position; it has not always been used as a mechanism for a city’s economic development like it is today. The museum has also never been more democratic. Over the museum’s history the institution has transformed from a place catering to the noble elite[v] to, most recently, a tool for economic development and serves its broadest audience to date[vi]. This thesis examines an architectural entity that has been a strong player in manifesting these cultural shifts. The entry sequence to the art museum is investigated for how it has acted in complicity for cultural production within the museum institution. And while the complexity of cultural realities in the United States has resulted in an evolved, but nonetheless, homogeneous museum prototype, the dynamic articulation of the entry sequence is engaged for greater design potential in the present cultural climate of the city.

[i] McClellan, Andrew. The Art Museum From Boullée to Bilbao. Berkley: University of California Press, 2008.

[ii] Dorbrzynski, Judith H. “They’re Building a Lot More Than Their Collections,” New York Times, April 21, 1999, E13.

[iii] Yúdice, George. The Expediency of Culture: Uses of Culture in the Global Era. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

[iv] Zukin, Sharon, Ph. D. “Competitive Globalization and Urban Change: The Allure of Cultural Strategies” The Urban Planet 2 (2011) pp.1-2.

[v] Duncan, Carol. “The Art Museum as Ritual.” The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995: 424 – 434.

[vi] McClellan, Andrew. The Art Museum From Boullée to Bilbao. Berkley: University of California Press, 2008.