Museum architecture: receptacle or spectacle?

Has museum display become subservient to the sculptural branding of architects or should the architecture be a neutral backdrop?
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Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain 

Museum architects have become  “Starchitects” – global celebrities beyond the architectural community, producing iconic buildings transforming cities as destination venues.

The phenomenon really started in 1977 with the opening of Centre Pompidou designed by architectural team: Italian icon Renzo Piano, Brit Richard Rogers and fellow Italian Gianfranco Franchini. This so called ‘deconstructionist architecture’ with its industrial aesthetic was as much about urban grittiness as it was engineering efficiency and spectacular – and it changed the way we approached the museum.

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Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina