museum designers London

Donor Museums Your Way – A Growing Trend


In the past we had pre-fabricated housing, offices and even prisons pop-up. All these mass-produced structures were endeavouring to offer low-cost and quicker solutions than the conventional building methodologies.

It’s now the turn of museums. Do you think pre-fabricated museums an alternative solution?

Over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in both corporate and individual art collecting. These huge art collections spend large parts of their life either in secure storage or out on loan. Some exceptional pieces are exclusively on display for the collector’s eyes only.

These individuals, with large art collections would donate to a museum or art organisation. Some of these collections take generations to accumulate. For their generosity the art collector / philanthropist would either have a gallery, or on larger donations have entire wing named after them.

Nonetheless a growing trend in the last 5 -7 years for these individuals is to build their own museums. This approach allows them to display their collections whilst keeping total control. These museums have become known as “donor museums”. I am working on two of these donor museums as I write this article. One donor museum us based in China and another in Abu Dhabi. These traditionally built structures take years in the planning with many different specialists and professionals working together to produce these very unique buildings and exhibits, even before works begins on site.

“Bring That Passion & Love you Have For Your Art Collection”

The great thing about building your own donor museum is that you can have your art or objects on display as the saying goes from the famous burger brand “Your Way”. In the past many collectors have become disgruntled’ after donating their collections to an art institution’ to feel they lose any control on how and when their art objects will be displayed. The signing of contracts and agreements can only go so far and can be misinterpreted.

All traditional art institution and organisations have to follow certain procedures and guidelines. This can make them out of touch with the modern art collector and the speed of trending in today’s art world. Like a large oil container ship these established art organisations can take a long time to make course corrections, leaving them playing catch-up, which of course they can never do.

If you build your own donor museum you can bring that passion and love you have for your art collection. Furthermore, funnel it directly down into displays and the identity of the museum design, which will house everything. Nonetheless, there is one major drawback to these purpose built donor museums. This is the cost and length of time to get the museum designed and built.

Thus I thought it would be interesting to look at both the conventional and prefabricated delivery methods for museum design and build. Let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of both next time. Join me!