Yousun Nam

Civic Futures


Bryan Boyer


The collections of art museums today are increasing rapidly. Major art museums like MoMa and New Museum are constantly expanding their galleries to show more of their collections and looking for new branch locations. Some institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum have partially opened art archives, and architects like MVRDV and Diller Scofidio have proposed new designs that actively invite guests into the museum’s backstage. However, these solutions are not enough to fundamentally solve the problem given that the average growth rate of most of the world’s collections is faster than the expansion rate of the galleries, and on average 60% of those collections are still hidden away in storage.

Art-scape reframes these ever-growing collections as a generative future for art institutions. The proposal assumes that art transportation will become more convenient through AV freight systems, and imagines that all the museums in New York will utilize a single,  collective storage facility that can expand vertically. The shared storage incorporates computational logistics technology that efficiently transports artworks on demand to museums using autonomous transporters. This technology allows the working robots to coexist with people, and therefore blurs the boundary between public and functional spaces. The facility consists of an art transportation center on the ground floor and the storage levels above, with research and meeting areas for visitors throughout. Inside, a series of large voids enable work to be moved between levels, and the in-between mezzanine floors provide interesting viewpoints where visitors can see the collections from above.

This new facility, fully open to the public, challenges the primacy of contemporary museums by adopting the idea of anti-curation. In the storage space, work is placed at random based on how the materials fit best geometrically within the interior volume, following robotic logics that refuse any kind of order or hierarchy. The artwork is constantly rearranged by robots based on the spatial needs or the visitors’ requests, rendering the collection in a fluid state of near-constant slow-motion movement. This spatial and operational system enables collaborative research in a more egalitarian way and offers people exploring Art-scape a unique experience of walking between artworks seemingly moving by themselves.