Top 10 Architecturally Amazing Galleries

When it comes to art galleries, the building itself can become a part of the collection. Below we've compiled a list of a few of our favourite architecturally designed art galleries - it could be argued that some out-shine the famous artworks in which they were designed to showcase...

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC (Frank Lloyd Wright, architect)

Built in 1959, this landmark work of 20th century architecture was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Originally conceived as a "temple of the spirit", the cylindrical building grows wider towards the top with a unique ramp gallery extending up from ground level in a long, continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building .  Critics believed that the building would overshadow the museum's artworks; "On the contrary", wrote the architect, the design makes "the building and the painting an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony such as never existed in the World of Art before."

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (Frank Gehry, architect)

Built in 1997, this museum of modern and contemporary art is one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture. Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the architect was encouraged to design something daring and innovative. The curves on the exterior of the building were intended to appear random and to "catch the light" internally. Critics remain largely positive on the exteriors approaching the building but critical of the interior effect, describing the artworks looking "unhappy", "completely absurd" and tiny on the museum's vast walls.

Roca London Gallery, London (Zaha Hadid, architect)

An interactive, unique and innovative gallery designed by late renowned architect Zaha Hadid for...bathroom products! Roca is a leading global bathroom brand, who wanted their Roca London Gallery to be much more than just a display space. It hosts cultural and social events, exhibitions and installations, meetings, presentations, seminars and debates; anything that is a celebration of design. The leading role is played by water which "acts as a transformer moving, without interruption, through the facade, carving the interior and flowing through the main gallery as drops of water." Hadid and her team created a design that is not just purely visual, it also uses the art of precision and control to help the visitor understand the relationship between the architecture of the space and the design of Roca bathroom products.

The de Young Museum, San Fransisco (Herzog & de Meuron and Fong + Chan, architects)

Opened in 2005 in San Fransisco's Golden Gate Park, The de Young is a fine arts museum designed by architects Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Fong + Chan. The de Young, designed to help withstand future earthquakes, can move up to three feet (91 centimetres) due to a system of ball-bearing sliding plates and viscous fluid dampers that absorb kinetic energy and convert it to heat.

Kolumba Museum, Cologne, Germany (Peter Zumthor, architect)

Situated in Cologne, a German city almost completely destroyed during World War II, the Kolumba houses the Roman Catholic Archdiocese's collection of art which spans more than a thousand years. Swiss architect Peter Zumthor's design delicately rises from the ruins of a late-Gothic church, respecting the site's history and preserving its essence. "We must believe in the inner values of art, its ability to make us think and feel, its spiritual values. This project emerged from the inside out, and from the place," explained Zumthor of the museum.

Gufa, Ahmedabad, Gujarat (B.V. Doshi, architect)

Indian architect B. V. Doshi collaborated with businessman and artist M. F. Hussain to create an underground gallery space, 'unlike any gallery that has been built', for Hussain's paintings. The idea behind the underground gallery arose to combat the unbearable heat of Guha. The curvaceous form of the space is half submerged into the ground with a bulbous roof structure made from china mosaic and locally available saucers. The underground gallery space has no straight walls and artist Hussain has converted the ceiling of the spaces into a large canvas, painting directly onto the concrete. Quite literally, the building is the canvas.

The CaixaForum Arts Centre, Madrid (Herzog & de Meuron, architects)

Constructed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron from 2001 to 2007, the CaixaForum Arts Centre combines an old abandoned electrical station with new construction of floors which are encased with oxides cast-iron, which was meant to be of similar colour and weight as the brick below. The green wall beside the museum and cultural centre is known as the 'Vertical Garden' and was designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc.

Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC (Renzo Piano, architect)

Known informally as the "Whitney", this art museum was originally founded in 1931 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a wealthy and prominent American socialite and art patron. The original building closed in 2014 to relocate and reopen in 2015 to this new building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The Whitney focuses on 20th-and-21st-century American Art with its permanent collection comprising more than 21,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, films and new media by more than 3,000 artists.

Vitra Design Museum and Factory, Weil am Rhein, Germany (Frank Gehry, architect)

This internationally renowned, privately owned museum for design is an architectural attraction in its own right, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. Founded in 1989, the museum's collection focuses on furniture and interior design and centres on the bequest of U.S. designers Charles and Ray Eames, as well as numerous work of many designers. 

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (Richard Rodgers, Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini, architect)

'The Pompidou' was named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who commissioned the building which was officially opened in 1977. The design was chosen through a competition of 681 entries. The winner was the architectural team of Italian architects Richard Rodgers and Renzo Piano, along with Gianfranco Franchini. The 'complex' centre houses the Public Information Library (a vast public library), the Musee National d'Art Moderne (the largest museum for modern art in Europe) and IRCAM (a centre for music and acoustic research). Original reaction to the design was described as "love at second sight", arguably after architect Rodgers' won the Pritzker Prize in 2007. The Pritzker jury noted the design of the Centre "turned the architecture world upside down" and that the Centre "revolutionised museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city."

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