Koolhaas on Museums and Their Impact on Cities

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  06.25.10 | 2:02 PM ET

Rem Koolhaas sat for an intriguing interview with Artforum that touches on museums’ influence on their communities. Here he is talking about the current state of Amsterdam and its big museums:

But Amsterdam is now a really interesting case, because it’s kind of a reverse Bilbao. They’ve closed two of Amsterdam’s major museums for eight years—the Stedelijk and the Rijksmuseum—both to be enlarged and “prepared for the twenty-first century.” The Van Gogh Museum has remained open, and recently the Hermitage opened a very successful satellite, but the effects of those two closures on the city are devastating. It’s lost its mission and its culture, and the absence really made the entire city suffer. The whole artists’ “scene” withered, because there were no major outlets you could hope to show in, nor outlets for systematic inspiration or interaction with significant art. In fact, it’s a very serious political issue: Simply the closure of two museums has diminished the status of the city internationally in a way that has many people dismayed and pessimistic about whether it might ever recover. So in some cases, you wonder whether “Bilbao” might actually be a necessity. It’s certainly legitimate for cities that aren’t “major” and have no “major” histories to try to use architecture to enhance their reputation, but when it’s being applied to the self-image of major cities like Rome and Moscow, it becomes counterproductive. It’s as if these cities are losing their confidence and self-respect.

(Via Coudal)



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