Posts tagged with "Museums":

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Your inner child (and adult designer) will love the new London Science Museum kids science gallery

Whether you're under ten or not, you're lying if you say that having a slide race to test friction doesn't sound fun—not that the word "fun" should detract from the seriousness of the task, which after all, is in the name of science. Like the idea? Well, that's what is now on offer at Wonderlab in the Satoil Gallery at the Science Museum in London, designed by London-based muf architecture/art. Three slides, each offering various friction coefficients, are one of 50 hands-on exhibits at the new gallery. As critic Rowan Moore points out, institutions in the U.K. have often gone too far with flamboyant displays when it comes to science. Exhibits have become overcrowded with gimmicks that obtrusively vie for visitors' attention, usually "displaying digital technology that had a knack of a) becoming obsolete and b) stopping working." At the Wonderlab, though, this isn't the case. Covering 25,000 square feet, the $7.3 million space informs fresh-faced youths on scientific concepts such as light, materials, sound, forces, mathematics, electricity, and magnetism. Each concept is represented by a single hanging object—a brass instrument for sound, a blown glass orb for materialVisitors are encouraged to find their own way around the gallery. A 120-seater theater, designed to emulate that of the scientist Michael Faraday, can be used for classes, meanwhile, 400 handmade oval samples showcasing different materials can be found by the slides. A cage for a Tesla coil also features a 26-feet inhabitable revolving orrery—reminiscent of George Wright of Derby’s painting—that teaches children about the solar system by displaying the sun, earth, and moon. On a smaller scale, the space features bespoke kid-proof furniture: A treasure trail of 25 crystals can be found in the benches and a 16-feet oak tree has been studded with magnets. "These details are a conscious reaction against the generic bright, wipe clean, panelled architecture of many schools and public spaces," said the firm. The gallery is also very spacious. muf described their work as "stripped back" in an email to The Architect's Newspaper. On school trips, the sight of kids tearing across the floor and falling through exhibits just so they can give their friend an electric shock is not uncommon. muf's decision then to remove layers of suspended ceiling and partitions to open up the space is perhaps wise, as it attempts to diffuse the drama and chaos that can erupt in such a space. By doing so, the firm also allows areas for waiting and eating packed lunches—timezones that are notorious for attention spans to waver—to be generously day lit. Teachers will also be thankful for the added openness that gives their watchful eyes wider scope for sniffing out mischief. 200,000 children are set to descend onto Wonderlab each year and muf's design looks set to be a fun, enriching, but stress-free experience for all those who visit.
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A new book explores the formative ideas that shaped major American art museums

Kathleen Curran uses the erudite German term Kulturgeschichte for the kind of art museum display known more commonly as composite or contextual installation. Her research has unearthed the minutiae of U.S. museum history, adding to the extensive, existing publications about its European precedents.

The author starts with the well-known roots of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (called the South Kensington Museum when it moved to its first permanent building in 1857) in industry and the mechanical arts. Installation of the collections was based on materials and technique, and Curran fails to tell the reader that the change to a cultural, rather than a craft, display began to take place in the mid-1930s. 

In contrast with the V&A, museums in Munich, Berlin, and Zurich had adopted chronological arrangements of objects in period settings—also favored by directors and board members in the United States. Likewise, the Americans looked to national museums like the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Their interest in emphasizing the era of each gallery was guided by the Cluny’s unusual chronological arrangements, exhibits of sculpture and architectural elements in the period style of the rooms where they were exhibited, and illumination that heightened the historical emphasis.

Considering that early museum installations were not photographed, the author has done a good job in supplementing existing black and white illustrations with plans of the buildings under discussion. Within the text, figure numbers printed in red are helpful.

Upon its completion in 1902, the Boston Museum of Fine Art took the lead in what Curran describes as setting “the standards for the first great era of public art museum construction in the U.S.” Among other fine points, it is fascinating to learn that in contrast to the whirlwind visits of comparable trips undertaken by search committees today, the museum’s president, building committee chairman, and the architects they had chosen (Sturgis Wheelwright) spent three months in Europe, visiting every major museum and gallery there. Their investigation decided the group on the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt (Alfred Messel, 1906), a Kulturgeschichte museum, as a model.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City followed suit. In describing its beginnings, Curran brings to light the outstanding men responsible for it. Wilhelm R. Valentiner, a young and talented Dutch Rembrandt scholar almost single-handedly created the Met’s new decorative arts department, where he began to work in 1907 at the request of John Pierpont Morgan. Valentiner, was in turn influenced by the formidable Wilhelm von Bode, director of the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum in Berlin, whom he assisted for two years. Then and now—after a sensitive renovation completed in 2006—the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum is a touchstone of high-quality composite arrangements of decorative arts, painting, and predominantly, sculpture.

When it opened in 1910, the Met’s Wing of Decorative Arts designed by McKim, Mead and White was the first part of the museum building planned with direct reference to the objects it would contain. Based on the open court plan of the Musée des Art Decoratifs in Paris, the New York museum followed the ideals of Kulturgeschichte that were expressed throughout the Boston MFA.

Morgan’s relationship with Francis Goodwin (president of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, 1890–1919), another luminary in this constellation of brilliant museum enthusiasts, produced strong architectural similarities between the two buildings. I, for one, had never noticed that the Morgan Hall in Hartford (by Benjamin Wistar Morris) is almost an exact replica, although slightly smaller, of the Met’s Decorative Art Wing. 

A chapter devoted to midwestern art museums also contains riveting nuggets of information. One, for example, explains the origin of “period rooms” in Minneapolis (inaugurated in 1915), where Valentiner’s associate curator, Joseph Breck, was the first director. Breck was able to include paintings in his composite displays, something Valentiner had not been allowed to do at the Met. For the Minneapolis director “period rooms” contained objects selected to represent a specific period of art; they were not rooms transferred intact from historical houses.

According to Curran, Cleveland’s museum (1916), which turned out to be a condensed version of the Boston MFA, set the standard for a series of midwestern museums. The garden court in Cleveland, with walls designed to reflect the artistic periods of adjoining galleries, was particularly influential. An interesting issue raised in this chapter is the contentious relationship that developed at times between the museum architect and its staff, with critics divided as to which should take the lead.

Curran considers the galleries devoted to American art the greatest evidence of Kulturgeschichte’s impact. Beginning with the display of this country’s art at the Hudson-Fulton Celebration Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in 1909, she describes how Kulturgeschichte installations combined with elements of European national museums influenced the American Wing. Opened in 1924, the Met wing was among many near contemporary ones that “embraced historical rooms and composite displays as the preferred method for presenting life and art in colonial America.”

Fiske Kimball, the prodigious scholar of American history, enters the narrative here in his seminal role in the creation of the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing. He exerted an equally decisive influence on the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he became director in 1925, and mapped out an alternation of period rooms and composite display galleries in a triumph of Kulturgeschichte.

Curran’s work on the invention of the American art museum calls to mind Mary Anne Staniszewski’s illuminating history of installations at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art. Curran’s concern is historical fine and decorative art; Staniszewki’s is modern art. For all those interested in museums and their origins, these behind-the-scenes accounts are deeply engaging, not least in their revelation of how what goes around, eventually comes around.

The Invention of the American Art Museum From Craft to Kulturgeschichte, 1870–1930 Kathleen Curran, Getty Trust Research Institute, $49.95

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AN tours the saliva-worthy Museum of Ice Cream, a NYC pop-up where you can bathe in a pool of sprinkles

Today The Architect's Newspaper toured the soon-to-open Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) a pop-up space in the Meatpacking devoted to the season's favorite sweet treat. I popped two Lactaid pills and licked everything.

The space is the brainchild of design strategist Maryellis Bunn and Manish Vora, CEO of Lightbox NYC, a company that creates immersive brand experiences for the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Sephora.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIZ-tgpD9tP/

"The Museum of Ice Cream is about joy, experimentation, collaboration, sharing, and playing together, with some nostalgia, too," noted Bunn, who harbored childhood fantasy of diving into a giant pool of sprinkles.

The exhibits deliver on that fantasy. Although it would be generous to call the Whitney-adjacent MOIC a museum, it is a lot of fun. One installation invited participants to practice their scoop by digging vanilla ice cream out of a commercial-sized container and deposit it on a gold chalice. Our guide noted that ice cream was invented in China circa 1000 BCE, which is probably not true.

In the next room, Toronto-based Future Food Studio was spinning balloons made from liquid sugar and filled with helium. MOIC staff encouraged visitors to inhale the helium, say something in an elf voice, and eat the sticky aftermath:

Helium balloons at the Museum of Ice Cream The group also created a cone display for ice cream paired with Synsepalum dulcificum (miracle fruit), a plant from West Africa that temporarily alters how different foods taste. Bright pink vanilla ice cream cones arrived garnished with lemon, which tastes sweet under the berry's influence. Future Future Food Studio founder Dr. Irwin Adam explained that the exhibit is "art meets ice cream meets taste meets science," adding that the chemical interaction caused by the miracle berries is an interesting avenue in the psychology of taste. Sprinkles Pool at the Museum of Ice Cream The museum’s focus on its vigorous second life online is reflected in almost pornographically playful exhibitions where a visitor can point her phone at an angled ceiling mirror to snap the perfect selfie while diving into the sprinkles pool. The reminders from staff and wall text to #MOIC #museumoficecream reinforced the performative quality of the space. The sprinkles are made of cut-up plastic beads, the kind you imagine lodged in the trachea of sea creatures, but they approximated their sugar siblings well enough. I braved the crowds (above) and possible foot fungus to dip my feet in the pool: Sprinkle pool at the Museum of Ice Cream It felt nice, a colorful response to Snarkitecture's Beach. Chocolate display at the Museum of Ice Cream Over in the chocolate room, visitors were greeted with the rich scent of cacao, Dove chocolates, and a video installation of gushing liquid chocolate set to Lord of the Rings transition music. By the exit, there was a (chocolate milk?) fountain splattering its juices against the back wall and basin. Growing up in a house with old plumbing, the fountain was very triggering: Chocolate fountain at the Museum of Ice Cream Pivoting quickly back to the entrance for a Blue Marble Ice Cream vanilla sundae topped with lemon-guava paste, marshmallows, and Froot Loops, I returned to the final exhibit, an indoor playground sponsored by Tinder. The MOIC says the playground—with a loveseat, seesaw, and bench swing—is the ideal place for a first date. To test out the space, I had lined up an actual Tinder date who cancelled last minute, so I had to content myself with watching others try out the seesaw, which is shaped like an ice cream scoop: Seesaw at the Museum of Ice Cream Last licks: When it opens tomorrow, the MOIC expects 30,000 visitors over its monthlong run. Tickets are already sold out, but hours of operation and availability will be updated here.
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Renderings revealed for the Bronx’s Universal Hip-Hop Museum

New renderings by Mike Ford (a.k.a. the Hip-Hop Architect) of BrandNu Design depict the Universal Hip-Hop Museum (UHHM) that could grace the Bronx in the very near future. Although the idea for the museum has been germinating for a few years, this is the first time renderings are available for a specific site. The renderings depict a museum—complete with interactive exhibitions and a screening room—at the site of the Bronx Borough Courthouse, a disused neoclassical 1930s municipal building. The courthouse plaza features an amphitheater centered around a sculpture. As the birthplace of hip-hop, the Bronx is a natural choice for the UHHM, which would be the first standalone museum devoted to the genre, its history, heritage, and the culture the music nurtures. The museum was originally intended as one point in the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment plan, Ford told Curbed. The courthouse became the site at the urging of state assemblyman Michael Blake, who thought that the museum would be a great focal point for his district. With support from hip-hop pioneers like Ice T. and Kurtis Blow, Ford teamed up with Autodesk for a three-day design charette with industry leaders, locals, students, and program partners to craft a preliminary vision of the museum Right now, the UHHM is speaking with state and local officials to determine how much funding could be available for the museum. The Bronx is one of the poorest counties in the state, and the museum could be a vital source of jobs for the borough. Stakeholders are discussing the possibility of negotiating a long term lease of the courthouse for the museum.  
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This museum in a Tokyo warehouse is dedicated to preserving architectural models

A recently-opened museum in Tokyo aims to archive and display architectural models from great Japanese architects like Kengo Kuma, Riken Yamamoto, and Shigeru Ban. The museum treats the models as  important archival pieces in respect to their finished buildings as well as pieces of art worthy of appreciation. The museum is called Archi-Depot, and it’s located in the Shinagawa district of Tokyo. Its founder, Warehouse Terrada, is a storage company that advertises its expertise in storing wine, art, and other media. This helps explain the layout of the space, which has its models simply arranged on 116 shelves in an open warehouse. Guests can look up more information, including photos and blueprints, of each model using QR codes. The layout of the museum is clean and minimalist, and it doesn't take an expert in architecture to appreciate these delicate miniatures. According to Archi-Depot, their mission is work at the intersection of museum and archive. “Architectural models are considered to be profound materials that transmit designers’ thoughts, as well as being high quality sculpture works,” the museum says on their website. “Fans of architecture will gather from all over the world, as ARCHI-DEPOT has an accumulation of Japanese architectural models.” This museum is the first of its kind in Japan but its philosophy is similar to that of the Richard Meier Model Museum in Jersey City, New Jersey, which specifically gathers models made by the Pritzker winning architect Richard Meier. Other museums have dedicated specific exhibits to architectural models.
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Dora Epstein Jones named new executive director of L.A.’s A+D Museum

Los Angeles’s Architecture + Design Museum (A+D Museum) has appointed current Coordinator of General Studies Southern California Institute of Architecture Dora Epstein Jones as its new executive director. Epstein Jones will be the A+D Museum’s second executive director, filling the post left vacant by founding executive director Tibbie Dunbar, who left the museum in February 2016. A prolific author, curator, and editor, Epstein Jones holds a Ph.D in Architectural History, Theory, and Criticism as well as an M.A. in Urban Planning, both from University of California, Los Angeles. Epstein Jones is also a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and the AIA American Architectural Foundation. She also currently sits on the Advisory Board for the Getty Research Institute Architecture Archive. In a press release issued by the A+D Museum, Jones stated, “The brackets that define architecture and design in the 21st century are shifting dramatically, and at an unprecedented pace. This means that the role of the museum is that much more critical. With its move to Downtown Los Angeles Arts District in 2015, and an anticipated collaboration with the AIA Los Angeles to help create The Center, this is a pivotal time for the museum and I am honored to be entrusted with this opportunity.”
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OMA to design expansion of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery

This is OMA week. After unveiling the refurbished Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice, the New York- and Rotterdam-based firm announced that they have received the commission to design an $80 million expansion to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY. This will be the firm's first art museum project in the United States: OMA beat out four other offices—Snøhetta, BIG, Allied Works, and wHY—for the job, dubbed AK360, which will expand exhibition space for Albright-Knox's modern and contemporary art collection. Firm principal Shohei Shigematsu will be leading the design team. The board of directors approved a development and expansion plan two years ago to accommodate a collection that's quadrupled in size since 1962, the year of the museum's last major (SOM–designed) expansion. Currently, Albright-Knox can only display 200 to 300 of the 8,000 works in its permanent collection. The expansion will double exhibition space, as well as add space for education facilities, dining, and events space while better integrating the museum with the Olmsted–designed park around it. The commission comes fresh off of the completion of the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, another project that knits a city's landscape to a museum. It's fitting that OMA will be working in Buffalo, a city that capitalizes on its rich architectural heritage to spur tourism and investment. The museum, which is situated adjacent a local cultural district, hopes that the OMA project will have a spillover (uh, Guggenheim) effect on the ailing postindustrial city that's nevertheless experiencing a modest uptick in economic fortunes compared to neighboring cities. Shohei Shigematsu, along with artist Mark Bradford and Albright-Knox's director Janne Sirén, will give a talk at Art Basel next week on the role of art museums in social change. There's no date for construction as of yet, although the next phase of the "envisioning process" will begin this September.
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The Palestinian Museum opens, but with no exhibits

Situated on the West Bank north of Jerusalem, The Palestine Museum has officially opened, only one key feature is missing: the exhibits. Using white Bethlehem limestone to form angular volumes that rise up from the rugged site, the museum is designed by Dublin-based firm Heneghan Peng. Sitting on land gifted from the local Birzeit University, the $60 million project has had, much like its surroundings, endured a rocky journey. Initially conceived in 1997, political turbulence has stopped and stalled the museum's progress, however, some two decades on, it is finally here. The only thing left to do now is to fill it. Interestingly, one museum that did open in that timeframe (in 1999) was the Jewish Museum by Daniel Libeskind in Berlin. This, like Heneghan Peng's, opened without any exhibits and in fact remained that way for some two years. Attracting much attention, many critics even called for the museum to remain empty such was the power of its spatial qualities. The same however, has not yet been said of The Palestine Museum, though its emptiness could potentially be seen as some form of commentary on its locality. Nonetheless, exhibits are on the way and its inaugural exhibition Never Part is set to showcase artefacts of Palestinian refugees. Even this, though, has been delayed after a dispute between former director Jack Persekian and the museum’s board. The building itself, despite residing in a rocky location, actually sits on terracing intended to reflect the stepped nature of the agricultural landscape, something the museum's chair, Omar al-Qattan has described as "symbolically critical." al-Qattan also commented that Palestinians were “so in need of positive energy” that the museum—even in opening exhibition-less—was worth it. Covering only 37,673 square feet, the building will hold a climate-controlled gallery space, classrooms, offices, and an amphitheater, along with the usual amenities including a cafeteria with outdoor seating and a gift shop. Further construction is also penned to be finished within the next ten years, adding 107,639 square feet which will accommodate more galleries. For the moment, the museum's primary exhibition space, as Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian reports, remains a windowless hall punctuated only by wheelbarrows, cement mixers, and prints of architectural drawings smeared in Arabic, answers to “What is Palestine?” “Oxygen,” says one. “A heavy load,” says another. “Goats scattered on a hillside,” reads a third. Come June 1, whether it is filled or not, the museum will be opened to the public and free of charge - so there can be no complaints of getting your money's worth.
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Kengo Kuma wins competition for Hans Christian Andersen museum design

Japanse architect Kengo Kuma has been awarded commission to design the expansion for the Hans Christian Anderson museum in Odense, Denmark. Fending off compeition from Barozzi Veiga and Snøhetta, and Denmark's own Bjarke Ingels Group, all of whom remained until the contests latter stages. The project aims to create a new home for the author behind childhood classics The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Little Mermaid. In order to achieve this, the museum's expansion will carry a fairytale theme, captured in Kuma's plan for the museum that features a large garden filled with tall trees that are encompassed by circular timber structures. Covering 64,600 square feet, these volumes will house new multipurpose spaces as well as an underground level. A "Tinderbox Cultural Centre for Children" also part of the scheme, will aim to instill a sense of empathy and imagination in visitors, echoing the themes in Christian Anderson's tales while also teaching the children of his work. Odense's mayor Anker Boye, who was also the jury chairman for the competition said: "The proposal has a unique quality that captures the spirit of both Hans Christian Andersen and Odense, has striking international calibre and is locally embedded at the same time. It is a project that I can only imagine taking place here in Odense. But at the same time, it points far beyond anything local or national. It is internationally "Odensean"." Kuma's scheme revolves partly around what the British exhibition design firm Event Communications submitted as a winning proposal earlier in the year. Jane Jegind, Odense's Alderwoman for Urban and Cultural Affairs said that this was an "unusual" procedure, but was one of Kuma's project's strengths. "In planning the project, it was important to us that gardens, building and exhibition design were envisaged as an interconnected whole that clearly captures the spirit of Andersen and brings out the essence of the City of Odense at the same time, she said. The project's funds look set to be finalized by the end of this year, with ground breaking shortly after. Kuma himself will then open both the Olympic stadium in Tokyo and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense when the two projects are due to be complete in 2020.
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Carnegie Science Center raises money for new Science Pavilion

The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh have announced a new fundraising campaign entitled “SPARK! A Campaign for Carnegie Science Center” to raise the $34.5 Million needed to build a new three-story Science Pavilion addition to the current Carnegie Science Center. Situated along the Ohio River, the Carnegie Science Center was designed by Pittsburgh-based Tasso Katselas in 1991. The new pavilion would add 37,000 square feet of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Learning Labs and a Special Exhibitions Gallery to the center. The new pavilion’s nine STEM Labs would include 5,800 square feet of classrooms. Three of these classrooms would be flexible in size and format to facilitate different classroom needs, and one room will be specifically designed for “young learners.” A multipurpose space will be used for the center’s educator professional development program, the Teaching Excellence Academy. The new 14,000 square foot Special Exhibitions Gallery will be able to house large traveling exhibitions and serve as a flex space for larger science educational experiments. The space will also be utilized for lectures, forums, and community discussions. As part of the Carnegie Museum system, theSpecial Exhibitions Gallery will be available for use by the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the Andy Warhol Museum. So far over $26.5 million has been raised of the $34.5 million needed.
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McCormick Place Lakeside Center demolition proposed to keep Lucas Museum in Chicago

In the latest chapter of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts’ saga, a proposal has been put forward to tear down the McCormick Place Lakeside Center to make room for the MAD-designed museum. The Lucas Museum is currently tied up in a legal battle with Friends of the Parks, a public space advocacy group, despite being approved by the city. In a desperate attempt to stop the museum from once again moving its location to another city, the City of Chicago expressed its support of a plan that would replace the Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn-designed McCormick Place Lakeside Center. The 1971 McCormick Place Lakeside Center is located just south of the Soldier Field parking lot, the site that the museum was originally going to replace. The Lakeside Center is noted for having the larges space frame roof in the world, a feat that allows for its mostly uninterrupted interior. The plan to demolish the Lakeside Center is backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic Blare Kamin. In an October article Kamin referred to the building as the “shorline’s Berlin Wall.” Among other concerns, what has not been made clear by the city is where a new convention space would be built to replace the Lakeside center, or who would pay for it. Friends of the Parks has not yet made a statement on whether they would continue to challenge the museum’s placement if it was to move to the Lakeside Center site.
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The Kurds may have a Libeskind-designed museum

Just this Monday on April 11, Studio Libeskind announced a major controversial new project: the New York based firm is designing a museum to document the art and culture of the Kurdish people, the first of its kind. The Kurdistan Museum will be located in Erbil, Iraq, below its historic Citadel—the city’s original center and a World Heritage Site that some say is the longest inhabited town in the world. The unveiled renderings reveal architect Daniel Libeskind’’s famous sharp edges and strict angles that create a sense of openness and claustrophobia at the same time. (One his well-known project is the Jewish Museum in Berlin). The design for the 150,000 square foot museum features four wings or “fragments” that meet at the center. They represent the four major homes of the Kurds: Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. There are also two paths, a concrete one that the architect calls the Anfal line to represent Kurdish genocide, and the other, a latticed form rising above a garden path, with an eternal flame to represent freedom. Libeskind’s schematic sketches highlight the struggle of the nationless Kurdish people—and how to give form to their past and present, while looking towards the future. In one sketch, Libeskind noted a fracture. But he said there’s also resilience, freedom, and the importance of memory and reflection. “The design had to navigate between two extreme emotions: sadness and tragedy, through the weight of history, and of joy and hope, as the nation looks to the future,” he said in a statement. The museum will hold galleries for permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as an education center, a community space, and more. The Kurdistan Regional Government, along with film and multimedia company RWF World (the client representative), is backing the project. But due to the political nature of the project, funding for the $250 million museum has yet to be secured, with funds being directed toward the current war effort. “The Kurds in Iraq are currently engaged in fighting the Islamic State (ISIS), which has been covered widely by the international media,” said Studio Libeskind in a press release. “The construction of the museum will begin once the region is stabilized and the threat posed by ISIS is minimized.”