No disrespect to the Louvre in Paris — any museum that opens its doors to Beyoncé and Jay-Z for a midnight music video shoot is alright in our books — but there’s something to be said for venturing further afield for your da Vinci fix. Ever since the 1997 unveiling of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao — a metallic cloud of a building based in an industrial Spanish port city — design devotees have been making spiritual pilgrimages to commune with paintings and sculptures in increasingly far-flung destinations. This year’s most exciting new museums continue the tradition by leveraging remarkable architecture and unrivalled collections to draw our attention to unexpected locales. Meanwhile, back on home turf, two recently relocated Canadian institutions are set to attract their own flock of cultured tourists. In other words, meet the six new wonders of the art world. Given their calibre, we wouldn’t be surprised if Blue Ivy and company have already booked a family outing to at least one of these.
This arts and cultural centre spans 10 buildings spread across a former distillery site. This spring marked the completion of its final component, Torre, an angular white concrete tower designed by Rem Koolhaas to provide gallery space for the foundation’s contemporary art collection, plus unbeatable views of the city from a rooftop terrace bar.
The showstopper: A floor filled with groovy upside-down mushroom sculptures by Carsten Höller will have you feeling like you ingested, well, mushrooms.
Victoria and Albert Dundee
The first V&A gallery outside of London settles into its Scottish setting with a regionally inspired structure by architect Kengo Kuma. The design museum’s ship-like building, opening September 15 along Dundee’s River Tay, is a nod to the boat-making industry in Scotland’s fourth-largest city, while the facade’s slanted stone panels mimic nearby coastal cliffs.
The showstopper: A recreation of a double-height Glasgow tea room designed in 1907 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh showcases the designer’s renowned joint work.
Guardian Art Center
Ole Scheeren devised this stack of basalt-stone boxes perforated with porthole-like windows for China’s Guardian auction house. Besides hosting high-profile auctions, it also includes an exhibition gallery, a restaurant, and a hotel. In other words, it’s the ultimate destination for those who like to eat, sleep, and breathe art.
The showstopper: The Guardian Fine Art Asia fair, running October 25 to 28, fills the building with dozens of antiques and fine art dealers looking to cut a deal.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, UAE
French in name, but decidedly Middle Eastern in flash. An art collection valued at more than $1 billion — complete with masterpieces by Mondrian, Twombly, and Gauguin — is spread across a floating island complex of 55 all-white buildings sheltered below an eight-layered steel lattice dome designed by Jean Nouvel and opened late last year.
The showstopper: Salvator Mundi, a Leonardo da Vinci portrait that set a record when it sold at auction last year for a dizzying $450 million, is set to be installed this fall.
Closer to Home
Royal Alberta Museum
The new home of Alberta’s natural history museum doubles the size of the institution’s previous location to make more room for really old gemstones, dinosaur fossils, and petroglyph carvings. The Dialog-designed building further bolsters its historical cred by incorporating murals and terrazzo flooring salvaged from the post office that once sat onsite.
The showstopper: The Manitou Stone, a meteorite controversially taken from the First Nations in the 1860s, will remain on display — now free of charge in its own gallery.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Tower Automotive building, a former auto-parts manufacturing facility in Toronto’s Junction Triangle, is revving back up. After a reno by architectsAlliance, the 10-storey art deco tower reopens September 22 as the new home of the city’s once-scrappy MoCA, now a bona fide major-league player boasting gallery space galore, plus studios for local artists.
The showstopper: The opening exhibition welcomes works from Barbara Kruger, whose trademark white-on-red typography was co-opted for the logo of streetwear brand Supreme.