Our Complete Guide to the Biggest, Baddest, Boldest Museum Openings in 2018

From the London Museum of Photography to Cairo's Grand Egyptian Museum, here are the openings—and reopenings—you need to know about in 2018.

A rendering of VCU's Institute for Contemporary Art at the Markel Center. © Steven Holl Architects and the Institute for Contemporary Art, VCU.

2017 was a big year for new museum openings and expansions. In the US, the former Santa Monica Museum of Art re-opened as the Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The similarly named (but unrelated) Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami made its proper debut, and the Bass Museum moved into its new digs down the road. And not all the action was stateside: The Louvre Abu Dhabi launched in the United Arab Emirates, the expanded Tate St Ives in Cornwall reopened and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa was inaugurated in Cape Town.

To be sure, 2017 will be hard to top, but 2018 has a few blueprints up its sleeve. We may not see the same number of new arrivals, but there are some big-time expansions and new operations worth keeping an eye on, including two new institutions dedicated to photography and the long-awaited arrival of the world’s largest archeological museum in Africa.

So as you put 2017 in the rear view, here is our guide to the most interesting museum openings—and re-openings—in 2018:


1. Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. Photo by Iwan Baan. Courtesy of the Institute for Contemporary Art, VCU.

Opening Date: April 2018

Location: Richmond, Virgina

Positioned at the entryway of VCU’s Monroe Park Campus in the middle of Richmond’s arts district, the new Institute for Contemporary Art is the largest privately funded arts project in the school’s history.

The museum cost an estimated $41 million to build and was designed by Steven Holl Architects, the same firm that was responsible for two other major recent college art projects: the Visual Arts Building at the University of Iowa in 2016 and the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton, which opened earlier this year. The ICA is set to open in April with “Declaration,” an exhibition bringing together 30 artists whose work addresses a variety of social issues.


2. The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration

Opening Date: April 2018

Location: Montgomery, Alabama

This spring, the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization committed to fighting for racial and economic injustice, will open The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. The museum will explore the “legacy of slavery, racial terrorism, segregation, and contemporary issues of mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and police violence” in the United States. Located in Montgomery, Alabama, the former capital of domestic slave trade in the state, on the site of a former slave warehouse, the institution will combine art (Sanford Biggers and Hank Willis Thomas are mentioned on EJI’s website), interactive media, and oral history across its exhibitions.


3. Nordic Museum

A rendering of the new Nordic Museum building. Design by Mithun. Image by Mir. Courtesy the Nordic Museum.

Opening Date: May 2018

Location: Seattle, Washington

The Nordic Heritage Museum has long outgrown the old elementary school building it moved into when it was founded 1980. Finally, in the spring of next year, the museum will move into a new 57,000-square-foot home in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, and rebrand itself as the Nordic Museum. The building, which cost upwards of $45 million, will be wrapped in a “vertically striated zinc skin,” while inside, tall, angular white walls will invoke the glacier planes of a fjord.


4. Grand Egyptian Museum

Construction at the new Grand Egyptian Museum near the Giza pyramids in Cairo. Photo: KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images.

Opening Date: May 2018

Location: Cairo, Egypt

The Grand Egyptian Museum might be the most impressive structure built in Cairo since the Giza pyramids—which, appropriately, are just over a mile away from the new building’s location. The institution has been in the works for over a decade now and has come to cost nearly $1 billion in total (paid by a combination private donations, funds from the Egyptian government, and a loan from a Japanese bank). However, the end is in sight: The mega-museum is scheduled to open in May 2018, with a blockbuster exhibition revealing King Tut’s tomb. The museum expects visitor numbers to be in the tens of thousands per day; it’s part of a plan to reinvigorate the country’s flailing tourism industry. Designed by the Dublin-based architecture firm Heneghan Peng—which was awarded the job after winning one of the largest architectural competitions in history—the 650,000-square-foot building will be the permanent home to hundreds of thousands of ancient artifacts, a substantial amount of which have never before been shown to the public.


5. Victoria & Albert Museum of Design, Dundee

The Victoria & Albert Museum of Design, Dundee. Photo by Ross Fraser McLean. Courtesy the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Opening Date: Summer 2018

Location: Dundee, Scotland

One of two Victoria & Albert Museum outposts planned for 2018, the Museum of Design in Dundee, Scotland aims to bring a fresh, accessible perspective to the field while highlighting the country’s rich design heritage. The buzzed-about building is designed by Kengo Kuma, the same architect responsible for the Olympic stadium in Tokyo in 2020. It cost over $100 million—almost double its original estimate—and will be located on the bank of the River Tay. The museum is one of the central components of the Scottish city’s 30-year, $1.3 billion waterfront transformation.


6. Photography Centre at the Victoria & Albert Museum

A rendering of the new Photography Centre at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Courtesy the V&A Museum and David Kohn Architects.

Opening Date: Fall 2018

Location: London, England

Announced earlier this year, the second V&A expansion project planned for 2018 is a new photography center on the museum’s campus in central London. The new building will house the museum’s own collection of photography—one of the most substantial in the world, with over 500,000 works. It will also house the collection of the Royal Photographic Society—with over 270,000 works—which was controversially relocated from its former home at the National Media Museum to the V&A in 2016. Together, the two collections form the world’s single largest photography collection. Designed by David Kohn Architects, the new building will double the amount of exhibition currently reserved for photography at the museum.


7. Glenstone Museum

Glenstone Museum expansion. Rendering courtesy of Thomas Phifer & Partners and the Glenstone Museum.

Glenstone Museum expansion. Rendering courtesy of Thomas Phifer & Partners and the Glenstone Museum.

Opening Date: Late 2018

Location: Potomac, Maryland

By any measure, Glenstone, founded in 2006 by collectors Mitchell and Emily Rales in Potomac, Maryland, is already a big art institution. But its new expansion, slated to be finished in late ’18, will make it one of the largest private museums in the world. Designed by Thomas Phifer, the new expansion will add a new museum building with 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, an arrival hall, an entry pavilion, a bookstore, multiple cafes, and an additional 100 acres of land for the sculpture garden.


8. London Museum of Photography

A rendering of the White Chapel Building. Courtesy the Derwent London.

Opening Date: Late 2018

Location: London, England

Fotografiska, a forward-thinking museum for contemporary photography, opened in Stockholm in 2010. Now, the founders of that museum—brothers Jan and Per Broman—are planning to bring their vision to London. Located in the east end of the UK capital, down the block from the Whitechapel Gallery, the London Museum of Photography will occupy 89,000 square feet in a new Fletcher Priest-designed building. The privately funded, for-profit venue will host exhibitions year-round. And the Broman brothers are not done: They also reportedly signed a lease for a six-story building in New York this summer, suggesting that another museum might soon be on the horizon.

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