Tag Archives: architecture

“Re-inventing the Museum”

The Street Museum app overlaps historical scenes onto real life street views. Any reader of the AAM’s Museum Magazine recognises this project as one of the Museum of London’s outreach programs designed to move the museum collection out of the “box” of the museum building and into the lives of Londoners and international visitors; and more importantly, non-going museum audiences. StreetMuseum is celebrating 500,000 downloads.

The driving force behind this brain child, Antony Robbins, is in town this week for the digital GLAM event: Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. 

Tonight’s lecture was really just the kick off for tomorrow’s symposium, held at the University of Melbourne’s star attraction, the Melbourne School of Design.

Architecture Lesson II

Today we staged a “everything we do in one day” day for the architects of the new museum building on Provo. The idea was to show them the type of events we do and how we use our current space and the pros and cons of each. The result was a day of changing and touring spaces and – very important – explaining why the kitchen should not be near the humidity controlled storage area.

The architects seemed to enjoy our program. There was plenty of work going on – talks of room measurements and space usage and needs – but there was also a lunch with the staff and our latest volunteers and a special show of the archives (that’s my part!). Certainly it was a day worth the 170$ x 2 airplane tickets to making the new museum design the best that it can be.

Architecture Lesson


Neal is working with the Provo architects on the design of the new museum building. I stick my nose over his should every once and a while to see how things are going. Inevitably, I get a lecture for my troubles: offices should be over here for this reason, the entrance should be inviting and open, and if you imagine the center of a circle just here the rest of the building should flow around it to create a building inviting exploration. I’m not complaining. I don’t know anything about architecture and I’m happy to learn.

Last night’s lesson, however, was abstract. Neal was explaining how the museum design is starting to look like a shipwreck. He diagrammed the stages of the wrecking and finally morphed it into the building design.

I was skeptical. He was clearly inventing a story that didn’t exist, like Michelangelo seeing things in the rocks. Look at this grouping of chairs in the middle, that doesn’t look like a ballast mound to you? What about walls of the gift shop, that’s clearly the bow of the ship.

Yes, I understand that you see these things, but I see a group of chairs and some curved walls. What you are doing is like modern art, I said, it doesn’t matter what the artist put there – it is whatever you imagine it to be.

Well that started it. An architect’s building should be a piece of art, countered Neal. Modern art can be diagrammed into simple lines that reveal they follow the composition tenements of the classics (understand we are talking about Western civilization here).

Take the Oath of the Horatii. A classic piece, cut into a diagonal by color – dark at the top, light at the bottom. In fact, because it’s a classic piece it’s very literal – the diagonal line is actually drawn into the wall design at the top right corner.

The painting is inundated with triangles, and in fact the whole composition is triangular, from the handle of the swords down. This weighs the picture down to the bottom of the canvas. These are the basic rules of classic composition.

Now let’s do Guernica:

Diagonal line cut across, divided more with shading and coloring than composition – dark on top, light on the bottom.

Triangles every where with an overall triangle from the tip of the candle down, weighing the canvas toward the bottom of the frame.

“It might as well BE the Oath of the Horatii,”
exclaimed Neal.

I made him do this exercise a number of times. I’m going to work on breaking things down into diagrams. It seems like good practice to get the creative juices flowing. I’m a chairs and curved walls type of person, but with a little imagination anything is possible.