More Raum to Roam: 7 German Museum Extensions

Gabrielle Golenda Gabrielle Golenda

Whether a museum is pursuing an acquisitions policy to expand its collections or simply to bring emergency exits up to code, extensions provide a unique opportunity for architects to create meaningful structures that are not secondary. For those who enjoy an afternoon at a museum, these projects show how expansions can offer more than mere square foot transient spatial experiences.

Städel Museum Extensionby schneider+schumacher / Frankfurt – Vienna – Tianjin, Frankfurt, Germany

Just over 32,000 square feet, the Extension to the Städel Museum in Frankfurt takes up the garden of the original museum built in 1878. The view of the exterior highlights a gradient grid of skylights in a grass field where visitors can walk atop the part of the addition located entirely underground.

Brandhorst Museum by Sauerbruch Hutton Architeckten, München, Germany

Although it’s technically a standalone museum, the Brandhorst Museum is adjacent to a number of other modern and contemporary art museums in Munich’s kunstareal. The building consists of three interconnecting volumes distinguished by claddings of different colors: a multicolored façade composed of one layer of 36,000 ceramic rods in an assortment of 23 custom colors glazed in a family of eight colors and a second layer of horizontally folded metal skin coated in two colors.

Jewish Museum Berlin by Studio Libeskind, Berlin, Germany

The extension of the Jewish Museum Berlin intended to express feelings of absence, emptiness, and invisibility — expressions of disappearance of the Jewish culture. As there is no exterior entrance to the building, visitors must enter the new museum extension from the original museum in an underground corridor, enduring a temporary loss of direction before coming to a crossroads of three different routes.

Museum of Historical Marksmanship by Gnädinger Architekten, Duderstadt, Germany

Originally an abandoned half-timbered house, the Museum of Historical Marksmanship was constructed in the tower next to the historical town hall. A tinsmith crafted the expressive golden copper metal panels that cover the façade of the new triangular wing.

Military History Museum by Studio Libeskind, Dresden, Germany

The extension to Dresden’s Military History Museum is described as “a bold interruption, a fundamental dislocation” that penetrates “the historic arsenal.” The massive five-story, 200-ton wedge of concrete and steel slices through the center of the 135-year-old original structure.

Lenbachhaus Museum by Foster + Partners, München, Germany

Accompanying the restoration of the historic buildings of the Lenbachhaus Museum, the new wing replaces a 1972 extension that was removed to reveal the wall of the original villa. Clad in copper and aluminum tubes, the color and form complements the villa’s rich ochre hue and textured façades.

Filmmuseum Frankfurt by Blocher Blocher Partners, Frankfurt, Germany

In order to create more room to celebrate and exhibit film, the partially new ceiling constructions allow spacious interior solutions including the extensive foyer with the planned media library, shop, and café. The new glass entrance — a “window to the city” — connects the existing structure to the new floors and opens up to a view over the Main River.

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