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After Bilbao, the Deluge

How well do the newest “destination museums” work?

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The Milwaukee Art Museum  

SANTIAGO CALATRAVA
Milwaukee Art Museum, 2001
The Building: “Winged Victory,” said one critic of the avian edifice with a 217-foot wingspan.
The Art: The Georgia O’Keeffe inaugural show was well attended, but as Paul Goldberger wrote, “[Calatrava] has designed a spectacular building that has nothing to do with the display of art and everything to do with getting crowds to come to the museum.”


ZAHA HADID
Contemporary Arts Center, 2003 (Cincinnati)
The Building: “The most important American building to be completed since the end of the Cold War,” raved the Times.
The Art: “Somewhere Better Than This Place,” the largely audio-visual inaugural show, was praised for the ease with which it complemented the circulatory interiors, save for a few acoustic concerns.


JACQUES HERZOG AND PIERRE DE MEURON
M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, 2005 (San Francisco)
The Building: Earned praise for its copper-“skinned” futuristic shell (“DeLovely,” per one critic). But some locals have called it “Star Destroyer.”
The Art: Business as usual: a Jasper Johns survey from the permanent collection and an American photography show kept all eyes on the building.


DAVID ADJAYE
Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, October 2007
The Building: Hailed for its cool use of cheap materials, it may become the first American museum with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.
The Art: “Star Power: Museum As Body Electric” confirmed fears that Adjaye’s divvying up of the exhibition space by medium could prove curatorially tricky.


RAFAEL MONEO
Museo del Prado expansion, October 2007 (Madrid)
The Building: Much like Renzo Piano’s addition to the Morgan, Moneo’s $219 million extension has been praised for enhancing the original structure and freeing up space for art.
The Art: Well, it is the Prado—the more room for its holdings (like those in “The Nineteenth Century in the Prado,” the inaugural show), the better.


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