Within the next few years the Humboldt Forum, a site of world culture, will be a cultural center of national and international distinction in Berlin. We observe worldwide that cultural projects—realized with great enthusiasm and considerable financial effort—promote the renown of major cities and even have a defining influence on national self-image and identity. Museums frequently play an especially important part, and the strategy to accomplish these goals often symbolically combines cultural heritage with forward-looking concepts. Its broadest expression is demonstrated by grand architectural gestures.
Paris began this process in the 1980s with its glass pyramids in the courtyard of the Musée du Louvre, both a new source of light and a larger visitor entrance; the latest development in Paris, for the time being, is the Musée du quai Branly, opened in 2006 as an outstanding site for non-European art and culture. In Madrid, a new entrance and an expansion lend entirely new spatial dimensions to the Prado. In London, the British Museum devised a completely novel museum experience by building a roof over its interior courtyard and employing modern concepts to utilize the space; there, too, non-European art is now confidently shown next to early European and ancient Near Eastern art.
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