How to display art in a gallery, in three steps: (1) Pick a room. (2) Paint it white. (3) Hang art. (Note that for variety and dramatic effect, “black” may be substituted for “white” in Step 2.)
The above instructions may be disregarded, however, if you happen to be hanging art in Rome’s new “MAXXI“, more formally known as the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (or the National Museum of 21st Century Art), which opened this past May. Designed by Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid after a global selection process, MAXXI’s approach to “hanging art” is altogether more configurable, even mobile. Writes David Owen in Architecture Week:
MAXXI’s irregular walls eschew the conventional role as a neutral backdrop for art. The architects describe the walls as “the versatile engine for the staging of exhibition effects” rather than “the privileged and immutable vertical armature for the display of paintings.”
In this, the architects sought to create a structure that embodies the mission of the institution it houses, by seeking to redefine the viewer’s understanding of art — and architecture’s role in art — in the new century. A set of movable elements provides additional infrastructure for exhibits, allowing suites to be configured and reconfigured to meet the needs of the art on display.