Groninger Museum's second life

After a renovation project which took over 8 months, the Groninger Museum reopened its doors with new spaces by Baas, Hayon and Job.

The Groninger Museum begins its second life. I am delighted by this second opening of the Groninger Museum, 15 years after the first one. My brother Francesco, my group and I embarked on this splendid adventure in 1990, when the then director Frans Haks asked us to design a museum. The design process was not easy and we often found ourselves at the centre of harsh city debates. Frans Haks invented the museum's cultural formula and must be thanked for this exceptional experience – a museum made up of separate pavilions, with guest architects planned from the very first: Michele De Lucchi, Philippe Starck and Coop-Himmelb(l)au. The contribution made by Team 4 and all our Dutch friends was significant. The inspiration behind the design was the idea of a cultural island, a sort of utopian acropolis, a citadel of the arts. Today, the arts, the world, cities and architecture are all patchworks and so too is this museum. It is a backdrop for the artworks it contains and is reflected in the water of the canal like a mirage. The forms and contents of this architecture are a mix of images, masses, colours, materials, designers, eras and expressive media. Even the functional zones are hybrid, from the exhibition halls to the libraries and workshops.

The activity structure has evolved over the past 15 years with constantly changing strategies and new designers and artists, as can be seen today in works by Maarten Baas, Jaime Hayon and Studio Job. These new refined interventions that are being inaugurated today contribute to the sense of a backdrop and the idea of labyrinthine alienation contained in the original design concept. Inside, the idea was and is to create new highly varied scenarios that will show the artworks in architectural spaces that are active and not neutral, that can produce surprises, curiosity and attention. On the outside, the idea was and is for each pavilion to have a visual identity of its own to match the cultural sections: history, design and craft, classical art and contemporary art, a sort of architectural self-representation.

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