Architecture + Art: If You Build It, Will They Come?


  • Jerwood Gallery, photograph courtesy of Ioana Marinescu

Can a museum make a city? Who are new museums for? What is an appropriate architecture for a future-facing arts institution?

The If You Build It… series of three events follows The Architecture Foundation’s celebrated Architecture + Art: Crossover & Collaboration series (2009), held at Tate Modern. Across three events, the thematic series If You Build It, Will They Come? will explore regional newly built museums across the UK in conversation with international case studies and speculations towards arts institutions for the future, to productively examine the confluence of architecture and art as agents of urban change. The series will include conversations between gallery directors, architects, commissioners, artists and local residents. It will feature key contemporary projects at the time of their opening their doors; a selection of important museum precedents from around the world; and an ideas lab exploring future modes of architecture, infrastructure and context for cultural production and display.

If You Build It… takes at its starting point the proliferation of newly built regional galleries and museums in the UK – 2011 alone saw the opening of Margate’s Turner Contemporary, The Hepworth Wakefield, Colchester’s Firstsite, the Museum of Liverpool and Bath’s Holburne Museum; Hasting’s Jerwood Gallery will open in Spring 2012. These are daring commitments to the power of architecture and art as agents of urban regeneration: bold and impressive capital projects, conceived in a more clement period for arts funding and culture in the UK, which open as the country’s cultural landscape is in dramatic flux.

The discussions take place just as the Arts Council England’s funding cuts come into effect – the fiscal year 2012/13 sees the long discussed cuts in the arts and education become fact. Furthermore, in a November 2011 paper Arts Council England announced the end of their funding for new building projects, for the foreseeable future. Now is the moment to dissect these projects in further detail; to explore and champion their ambitions whilst looking closely at lessons learnt, avenues for the future, and the meaning and effectiveness of the use of architecture and art as socio-economic and cultural catalysts.

These topics will be discussed across a series of three timely events. The series will open with an event at the recently constructed Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (which opened in March 2012), followed by two talks at Tate Modern later in the year.