A fter more than 20 years of planning, the International African American Museum opens on 21 January with the intention to offer a “committed reckoning with history” and “a necessary stop on the road to healing and reconciliation,” says its president Dr. Tonya Matthews.
Promising to draw on the “power of place,” it is sited on the former Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina, where nearly half of enslaved Africans landed at the height of the slave trade, according to some estimates. “There is no better place to steward these stories,” says Dr. Matthews.
Securing this site is a huge achievement, explains Joseph P. Riley, the former mayor of Charleston who first announced the plans in 2000. Sleek, crisp design by New York architects Pei Cobb Freed & Partners sees its galleries hover above the ground on a row of pillars to afford a clear view of the Atlantic Ocean and a port that many African Americans regard as sacred.
The museum is also a celebration. An African ancestors’ memorial garden, a genealogy library and nine themed galleries over nearly 150,000 square feet will recount the history of slavery and also explain how African Americans’ labor, resistance and ingenuity shaped the world.
The eleven core exhibits include a transatlantic gallery, a multimedia installation, an African Roots gallery to explore the culture and history of West and West Central Africa and the Gullah Geechee gallery, focused on the South Carolina African American communities.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales is being transformed into Sydney Modern, a AU$344 million project promising to double the museum’s display space this December. Architects SANAA have designed a “new, open and accessible” building overlooking the city’s harbor. New commissions include a sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, known for her Infinity Mirror Rooms.
New international outposts of the Stockholm-based contemporary photography gallery are turning Fotografiska into the world’s largest private art museum, according to its owners. Following its 2019 openings in New York and Tallinn come new spaces in Shanghai, expected late 2022, Berlin in early 2023 and Miami later in the same year.
National Portrait Gallery, London
The gallery is reopening in early 2023 after a £35.5 million revamp by Jamie Fobert Architects. Refurbishing “the nation’s family album” has included constructing a new learning centre, entrance and forecourt. Throughout its three-year closure, the gallery loaned hundreds of portraits to other UK institutions. The opening programme is yet to be finalised.
Marquee image: International African American Museum. Ellis Creek Photography, courtesy IAAM