The lead article in the October 2004 issue of Architectural Record, devoted to contemporary museums, noted that 'museums continue to proliferate across the international landscape, leading to the conclusion that, post-Bilbao, every municipality seems to want a smash.' Certainly, following the opening of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, museums gained a newfound cache among architects and clients. The mission and purpose of the museum is rapidly evolving: museums today are frequently more than repositories for historical art, as they can be research centres, memorials, contemporary galleries, or site-specific artworks in themselves. Often, they are all of these things at once.
New Museums documents the best of new museum design and features 27 projects in 13 countries in Europe, the United States, Israel and Japan. The architects represented are among the most renowned practitioners in the world today. In addition to Gehry, they include van Berkel + Bos, Santiago Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, Kengo Kuma and Alvaro Siza, as well as lesser-known yet uniquely talented designers such as Zvi Hecker in Israel and Diener & Diener in Switzerland. An illustrated general introduction discusses well-known historical precedents, as well as current themes that are relevant to museum design: the museum as a neutral container, its role in placing art in context, the museum as an addition to an existing building and as a distinct work of art. Each project is thoroughly documented with colour photographs, plans, drawings and a project description by a widely published architecture critic.
In its totality, the presentation of the book itself is an accomplishment in design.