Herzog & de Meuron have unveiled the design of Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, which overlooks the Mississippi River. The Memphis-based “archimania”, which covers 10,500 square meters, will have expanded galleries and exhibition spaces. It will also offer open spaces for community and educational programming with free public access. In 2026, the museum is scheduled to be open to the public.
The current 10-meter-long redevelopment project for the Memphis riverfront includes the new museum. Plans for regeneration include the preservation of the historic cobblestone landing and new parks. There are also plans to create recreational pathways and a “cultural corridor” along the river. These will connect the area with downtown and the city center. Studio Gang and SCAPE are two of the riverfront projects.
The structure proposed will be found on Front Street, between Monroe and Union avenues in Cotton Row. This area is considered to be the oldest part Memphis. The main entrance will be accessed via a pair double-height wooden columns and a metal canopy. As a central unit, the main museum structure is covered with earthen cladding and surrounded by a horizontal glass container. Because the glass unit is transparent, passersby can see into the museum store and entrance lobby. A wooden-clad courtyard is also part of the museum, which can be used for public gatherings and recreation.
We wanted to create a welcoming landmark for the city that, upon approaching, explains itself visually. From the inside, it reminds visitors where they are in relation to a historic city and a famous river. It will be a museum that is both in Memphis and Memphis. A landmark that cannot be found anywhere else. — Jacques Herzog, co-founder of Herzog & de Meuron
The volume extends the original street layout of the city all the way to the river. To make the structure inviting and transparent, the architects took advantage of the site’s steep terrain. Lower floors contain parking spaces and public facilities. The upper floors are home to galleries and exhibition spaces. A 175-seat box theatre with raked seating will be located above the entrance lobby.
The architects describe the project in five facades. In addition to the transparent elevations and earthen-clad walls, the south facade is a solid wall that provides adequate art storage facilities. The roof is the fifth facade. It features an occupiable deck and greenery with a panoramic view over the river and the city.
The public is invited to see Herzog & de Meuron’s first Korean-realized project. The ST International Headquarters and SongEun Arts Space are located in the heart Cheongdam Dong. This area is one of the most commercialized areas in Seoul. They will provide non-commercial art spaces, new exhibition spaces and offices for ST International.