Two Museums in North Adams

Courtesy Gluckman Tang

The Global Contemporary Art Museum and The Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum
Architects: Gluckman Tang
Location: North Adams, Massachusetts
Completion: 2018

Move over MASS MoCA, there’s not one, but two new museums coming to town. Gluckman Tang Architects has revealed designs for The Global Contemporary Art Museum (GCAM) and The Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum in North Adams, Massachusetts. Thomas Krens, former director of New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum—also involved with MASS MoCA and (perhaps more notably) the Guggenheim Bilbao—is developing both museums. GCAM will be a 160,000-square-foot building funded by several international art collectors who will later use it to display their private artworks. The warehouse-esque space is a spare, light design with a structure punctuated by large sawtooth skylights and little else. According to a press release, Krens said: “An art museum is an 18th century idea in a 19th century box that more or less fulfilled its structural destiny sometime toward the end of the 20th century. Most established museums are in large cities and many private collectors simply do not have the space to exhibit the explosion of artistic creativity that has been produced in recent times. The GCAM is designed to address that issue with what I feel is a model alternative of what a museum can be.”


Nearby, The Extreme Model Railroad Museum will be a 700-foot-long addition to two historic freight train depots, with a total area of 32,400 square feet. In the museum, O scale model trains (1:48) will move through architectural dioramas created by the likes of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.


Perhaps in pursuit of that coveted Bilbao Effect, former Massachusetts governors Michael Dukakis and William Weld, as well as the city’s mayor, Richard Alcombright, are backing the museums as part of an ambitious effort to make North Adams into a cultural destination. Governor Weld said in a press release, “Both Michael and I have worked with Tom Krens on MASS MoCA. In retrospect, the size of the mountain we had to climb some 25 years ago was higher. The people, the expertise, and the ideas for this next major step are already in place.” Both museums are expected to be complete in 2018.

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