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Architectural evolution of museums

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camille chiongbian

on 11 April 2014

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Transcript of Architectural evolution of museums

2. Definition of "Museum"
In studying the architecture of museums, I find it important to first define exactly what a museum is. According to the International Council of Museums definition:

3. Historical Background
The idea of preserving culture.
5. 2 General Categories in Museum Architecture
As collections grew and were considered as crucial aspects of intellectual growth and cultural identity, private collections started opening its doors to the public. Such collections began to be considered as public value and therefore a concept of public service. Hence, their locations had to adapt to growing collections as well as public demand which leads museums to fall into two general architectural categories:
1. Introduction
When one enters museum, it is always natural to be overwhelmed with the great collections and riches it has.

Classic Antiquity
Architectural evolution of museums
In relation to the Museum of Navarre
By Maria Camille Chiongbian
This made me wonder...
In finding the answer, the investigation lead me to the historical background of museums, how the museum was first conceived and how the architecture of such spaces has evolved to what we now know them as.
how do museums obtain such a great quantity of items and how do they acquire such great spaces to house them all?
"A Museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment"
Although the idea of museums had not come about until the 15th century, people from different parts of the world began to collect and preserve ideas or memories which they held important.
An example would be the painting galleries or the "chitrashalas" in Ancient India which were created as a source of entertainment as well as a means of education.
Middle ages
Historians believe that the first organized museum was in Alexandria, Egypt in the third century B.C. but was later destroyed due to civil unrest. The museum was mainly a university of philosophical study which contained only a few objects.
In Greece, the word "mouseion" meant a temple which was dedicated to the Muses who were considered protectors of the Arts and Sciences.
Rome on the other hand was and still is considered an "open air museum" as a result of being home to the largest empires of the ancient world.
As Christianity began to grow, so did the appreciation for art. Art became a way of representing one's faith. Churches and temples became platforms for the creation of great masterpieces and therefore can be considered as public museums.
As we all know, the Renaissance was a period of intellectual growth and artistic expression. The center of it all was in 15th century Florence where the collection of the Medici was described as a "museum" where the word was first used.
Medici Palace
Vatican Museum
Chitrashala, Bundi
Erechteion Temple, Athens, Greece
Roman Forum, Italy
Basilica San Vitale, Italy
It took a while for actual museums and private collections to become public. It is actually considered a European idea to make such collections available to everyone. The Louvre was one of them, being available to the public on a limited basis. The French Revolution made it truly public in 1789.
purpose built
As we've seen from the evolution of museums, many collections were housed privately or in historic buildings. In order to adapt to being open to the public, many of the buildings were converted into spaces which allowed the art to be preserved better as well being easily accessible for people.
The Vatican museum is one example.
In fact,galleries were never designed for exhibitions but simply path ways to connect from one area of the building to the other. Only later on were they seen as convenient to be converted into spaces for exhibition.
The museum of navarre is another great example of a conversion.
The Museum of Navarre never used to be a museum but the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia.
These museums are built for the purpose of containing great collections of art and making it viewable to the public. Often times, they are built to serve a multi-purpose function such as banquet or lecture halls as well.
An example would be the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
Navarre's historical heritage was previously stored in the Camara de Comptos. However, due to the growing collection, the hospital was seen as an ideal location with sufficient space for the collection's storage and preservation.
4. Museum Architecture
The architecture of museums has gained importance throughout the centuries as a means of preserving its artifacts as well as being easily accessible to the public.
However, the structure of the museum also began to be seen as the reflection of the art that it contained. Therefore the organization, reconstruction and planning of a museum until now mainly revolves around how it would complement its contents as well as how it would adapt to modern times.
Guggenheim Museum, New York
The Museum of Navarre was inaugurated in June 24, 1956. It contained 22 rooms and as the years passed, more rooms were added to adjust to the growing collection.
The museum also includes the Gothic Renaissance chapel of the former hospital which has been recently renovated to contain Baroque and Renaissance art.
However, as a common aspect of many conversions of museums, only the facade of the old hospital and the church has remained from the original design. The interior has been altered to contain various rooms for exhibitions.
In 1990, the new part of the museum was opened where it currently contains its permanent collection located in the western part of the building.It was built to exhibit the collection in chronological order starting from the ground floor upwards to 4th floor.
1st floor: Prehistory, Roman, Medieval Art

2nd floor: Medieval and Rennaisance Art
3rd floor: Baroque and 19th Century Art
4th floor: 19th and 20th Century Art
This museum is considered as an important architectural landmark of the 20th century.
As technology progresses, ways of exhibiting art is constantly being innovated. At times, the internal structure of museums have also tried to adapt in order to accommodate such changes.Majority of the adjustments are in the rooms which hold temporary exhibitions.
An example of such innovations is the Virtual Portico exhibition about the Portico of Glory in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela which is currently shown in the Museum of Navarre until April 27.
"The Visual Portico is an interactive exhibition about the history, iconography and restoration program of the Portico of Glory...The exhibition contains the Visual Portico in 3D which allows visitors to visualize the monuments from unseen perspectives; artistic photographs in great format permits one to appreciate details of the Portico that cannot be viewed by the naked eye."- Diario de Navarra
7. Conclusion
Another great collection was that of Pope Julius II who began collecting sculptures during the early 16th century. All other popes after him gathered their own historical artifacts which expanded so greatly to what we now know as the Vatican museum. It currently holds 22 separate collections from all centuries and has received over 5 million visitors.
FUN FACT: It is said that if anyone were to spend 1 minute at each and every artifact, it would take approximately 4 years to see everything.
As we've seen, human beings are inclined to preserving one's culture because it is deemed important for intellectual growth and understanding. In the past as well as the present, people have regarded historical and cultural heritage as precious and worthy of preservation for the benefit of future generations. As time passes by, collections grow and we always find ways and create spaces to protect what has been gathered. The advancement of technology has facilitated this process and can only get better as our civilization progresses.
It is interesting to see such a development that museums have gone through and it has made me appreciate them so much more. After all,
museums keep history alive.
1. Introduction
2. Definition of "Museum"
3. Historical Background
4.Museum Architecture
5. General Categories in Museum Architecture
6. The Museum of Navarre
7. Conclusion
6. The Museum of Navarre
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