museum review - City in Motion: BMW Guggenheim Lab

Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima of Atelier Bow-Wow
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New York's Guggenheim Museum is taking itself on the road in an incredible effort that will “bring together people from all walks of life, and get them thinking about today’s urban realities, and tomorrow’s exciting possibilities”.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural gem, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, has long served not only as a home to Impressionist and contemporary art masterpieces, but to a series of special collections as well. Arguably, none will be more special than this.

Over the next six years, three 465sq m BMW Guggenheim ‘labs’ will travel, in consecutive cycles, to three locations – one in the USA, one in Europe, and one in Asia – spending three months at each location.

Each lab will have a particular theme, such as the first lab construction’s Confronting Comfort: The City and You. “We did interviews on the street asking people what it is they love most about the city and what they hate most, and the answer was the same: the people,” said assistant curator David van der Leer.

At every stop, leaders in fields of science, art, architecture, and design, among others, will engage in discussions held within these mobile labs that address problems and potential solutions associated with urban living. When each lab completes its tour, the Guggenheim will host an exhibition that presents the issues and ideas addressed during the lab’s travels.

“It’s all motivated by the same thing, to make what is on the walls here more compelling,” said Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The structure was initially conceived by Tokyo-based architects Atelier Bow-Wow as part-think tank, part-community centre, part-public gathering space.

Of note is the sponsorship by BMW, which has made a sizeable but unspecified investment in the project. Architectural project involvement is nothing new for the auto giant, which has previously commissioned artists such as Alexander Calder and Jeff Koons to create ‘Art Cars’, and hired London’s Zaha Hadid to design a factory in Germany.

As for the travelling lab, assembly began on June 23. The structure is made of carbon-fibre, and in less than two weeks the second storey had been assembled as well. Workers in Manhattan watched daily as the preassembled rig was hoisted as a single unit, with a crane setting it down upon specially engineered carbon fibre columns. Soon after came lighting, audio/video equipment, and furnishing, as well as amenities such as an onboard café and restrooms. The second site of the BMW Guggenheim Lab will be the Pfefferberg complex in the Berlin neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg some time next year.



BMW Guggenheim Lab
First Park
Corner of Houston Street and Second Avenue
New York, NY




New York, USA
Distance: 10,792 km
Flight Time: 14 hours, 10 minutes
Frequency: Daily

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