15 Cultural Hotspots To Visit in 2015

Jan 16, 2015

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2015 is shaping up to be an interesting year for the art world, with enormous museums, performance and cultural centers opening all over the planet. With that in mind, TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen has curated (get it?) a list of 15 of the most interesting cultural hotspots that should be on your travel docket this year.

The Louvre will open up its second location in Abu Dhabi this year.
The Louvre will open up its second location in Abu Dhabi this year.

1. Abu Dhabi: The new Louvre. A lot of folks are likely to be flying to, from or through Abu Dhabi this year, thanks to Etihad’s amazing Christmas Day mistake fares. Some of them might even be among the lucky first visitors to the Louvre’s second location—a grand project that was originally announced back in 2007, slated for completion in 2012, and is finally set to open this year around December in the emirate’s Cultural District on Saadiyat Island. The museum is being designed by architect Jean Nouvel, who aims to create the effect of a floating dome with a webbed ceiling meant to evoke sunlight being filtered through palm fronds.

The museum’s overall concept is to highlight the interplay between civilizations. Half the museum’s opening exhibit will be 300 masterpieces on loan from leading French museums—including a Van Gogh self-portrait from the Musée d’Orsay and a Matisse from the Centre Pompidou—while the other half will come from the new Louvre’s own collection of never-before-seen works from the ancient and Islamic worlds.

The rest of Saadiyat Island will eventually be a who’s who of museums and architects, with planned projects for a national museum being designed by Foster and Partners, a performing arts center designed by Zaha Hadid, a maritime museum by Tadao Ando, and a Frank Gehry-designed outpost of the Guggenheim. For ideas on what else to do in Abu Dhabi during a visit, check out this post.

Frank Gehry designed Paris
Frank Gehry designed Paris’s new Fondation Louis Vuitton cultural center.

2. Paris: Fondation Louis Vuitton. Paris is one of the world’s great capitals of both art and fashion, so it’s fitting that one of the most exciting new developments in the city is this private cultural center built by luxury conglomerate LVMH and built by starchitet Frank Gehry to the tune of over $140 million. The foundation opened its doors in October 2014 in the leafy Bois de Boulogne, with a twisting metal and glass frame reminiscent of a wind-blown galleon—or maybe an oversize Vuitton steamer trunk.

Inside, visitors will find several gallery and performance spaces for everything from traditional exhibits to interactive installations, fashion shows (of course), and an extensive children’s program with pop-up workshops. The artists on display include some of modern and contemporary western art’s crème de la crème, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter and Olafur Eliasson. The performance hall has a specially commissioned series of paintings and a screen created by Ellsworth Kelly. More works are set to be unveiled and installed between now and next September. For more information on Paris, check out our Destination of the Week post on the City of Lights.

The Milan Expo Gate - over 140 countries will be participating.
The Milan Expo Gate – over 140 countries will be participating.

3. Milan: Expo 2015. The next Universal Exposition—or Expo for short—is being held in Italy’s fashion capital this year from May 1-October 31. More than 140 countries will be constructing pavilions and sponsoring exhibits and presentations, and Italy’s own section will have about 20 pavilions to represent the regions of Italy surrounding an artificial lake. The Expo grounds will be northwest of the city beside the new Fiera Milano fairgrounds, to which it will be connected by a pedestrian bridge.

The Expo’s theme this time around is “feeding the planet, energy for life,” and exhibits will be grouped in sub-themes including dietary education, technology for agriculture and biodiversity, and food amongst the world’s cultures and ethnic groups. Overall, it’s meant to be a look at human history through the dual lenses of cultural values and the use of new technologies. The idea is for visitors to get the sense that they are traveling around the world learning about its various countries, sampling foods and traditions, and learning about upcoming challenges. Here’s our Destination Milan post if you’d like more information about getting there and what else to do.

Art Basel Hong Kong will take place in March this year.
Art Basel Hong Kong will take place in March this year.

4. Hong Kong: Art Basel. This third offshoot of the world-class Art Basel show is now in its third year in Hong Kong, with 2015’s dates set for March 15-17. Set at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai, this year’s show will feature exhibitions from some of the world’s leading galleries, half from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, and half bearing familiar international names like Gagosian and Pace.

With six distinct sectors—Galleries, Insights, Discoveries, Encounters, Magazines and Film—you’ll see a wide range of work by over 3,000 artists, from paintings and sculptures to photographs and videos. Art Basel also hosts a series of talks and salons with artists, gallerists, historians, publishers and collectors expounding on pertinent topics like the geographical and historical origins of artworks, the contemporary art scene, and the drive to collect and exhibit art. Find out more about Hong Kong and how to get there in this post.

New York
New York’s iconic Whitney Museum is moving to a new Renzo Piano building in the Meatpacking District. Photo by Timothy Schenck.

5. New York: New Whitney Museum Building. Since it originally opened in 1930, the Whitney Museum of American Art has been one of the country’s most important showcases for living American artists. The original one was in Greenwich Village before moving first to the Upper West Side, and then to the Upper East Side in 1966. Now the museum is moving again, closer to its Lower Manhattan roots: the new Renzo Piano-designed building faces the High Line on the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Streets.

Amongst the museum’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century art—over 21,000 works in total—will be notable entries like Willem de Koonig’s “Woman and Bicycle,” and Edward Hopper’s “A Woman in the Sun.” Doors are set to open May 1, and the complex will include nearly 200,000 square feet of galleries, exhibition spaces, a theater, an outdoor plaza, a conservation lab, a library and both a ground-floor restaurant and top-floor café operated by the Union Square Hospitality Group. For more things to see and do in the Big Apple, take a look through the posts in our New York City category.

A rendering of the latticed facade of LA
A rendering of the latticed facade of LA’s new Broad Museum.

6. Los Angeles: Broad Museum. On our other coast, entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad (along with wife Edythe) are expecting to open a museum downtown to house their massive Broad Art Foundation collection sometime in the fall. The $140-million building, which sits on the corner of Grand Avenue and 2nd Street, was designed by the firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and features a dramatic lattice-like façade of fiberglass and concrete referred to as the “veil.”

The museum will exhibit over 2,000 works by about 200 artists, and the permanent exhibition is expected to be free to the public. The museum complex will also feature a large public plaza with trees and lawns, as well as a freestanding restaurant from L.A. impresario Bill Chait, chef Timothy Hollingsworth, and mixologist Julian Cox. Every museum should have a great restaurant and bar where you can discuss what you’ve just seen. Check out this post for 10 more things to see and do in LA in the new year.

Berlin’s new Kusthaus Dahlem focuses on post-war art. Photo by Robert Conrad.

7. Berlin: Kunsthaus Dahlem. Sometime in the summer of 2015, Germany’s capital is getting a new museum of postwar German art from both East and West Germany. Set at the edge of the Grunewald park area, the new museum’s opening exhibit will focus on sculpture, paintings, graphic arts and photography covering the period from 1945-1961, when the Berlin Wall was constructed.

Curiously enough, the museum will be located in the former studio of Arno Breker, who was a prominent sculptor during the Nazi regime; Breker’s studio is currently being renovated and preserved. Admission to the Kunsthaus Dahlem will be free for the first two months, and there will be a series of special events to pique public interest. Check out our Destination Berlin post to find out more about getting there and what else there is to do.

Sydney’s Goods Line took New York’s High Line as its inspiration.

8. Sydney: Goods Line. Sydney’s getting a High Line of its own with this new urban park that will be a pedestrian and bicycle network from the city’s Railway Square through Darling Harbour via the Ultimo station. Like New York’s elevated park, this open-air corridor (mostly at street-level) will have elevated platforms and open areas for recreation, relaxing and other activities.

The first section will be 250 meters long and extend from the Ultimo station to the Powerhouse Museum parallel to Harris Street. The second phase is the Goods Line South section, which will be 500 meters all told, running from Ultimo to Railway Square and including the Devonshire Street tunnel. The whole thing should include mobile workspaces and free WiFi as well, and hopefully transform a somewhat gritty part of the city into a cool place to hang out. The North Section should open first early this year in conjunction with the unveiling of Sydney’s new University of Technology business school building designed by Frank Gehry. For information on getting to Sydney, where to stay and what to do, check out this post from our Destination of the Week series.

The Renzo Piano-designed Harvard Museum extension. Photo by Peter Vanderwarker.
The Renzo Piano-designed Harvard Museum extension. Photo by Peter Vanderwarker.

9. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Museums Extension. One of the U.S.’s premier institutions of higher education also has one of its finest private art collections, which has found a new (or newly remade) home in this extension designed by uber-architect du jour, Renzo Piano. Piano has reconceived and combined the buildings housing the university’s Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Sackler Museums, creating a new five-story glass atrium while stripping the existing structures of their post-1927 (their original construction date) features and modifications.

The space opened to the public in November 2014 and includes new galleries and exhibition spaces as well as a 300-seat auditorium, and imbues the whole complex with an airier, light-filled ambiance. For more information on traveling to Boston, where to stay, and things to do, check out our Destination of the Week post on it.

The new Krakow ICE Centre. Photo by Wojciech Wandzel.
The new Krakow ICE Centre. Photo by Wojciech Wandzel.

10. Krakow: ICE Krakow Congress Centre. Poland’s cultural capital has a new conference and performance space in this stunning cultural center which opened in October 2014 along the banks of the Vistula. The complex, designed by Ingarden & Ewy Architects, includes three main halls—an Auditorium, a Theatre Hall and the Chamber Hall, which can hold up to 2,100, 600 and 300 audience members respectively. The space can be used as a convention and exhibition center, though the primary focus is on its programming as a performing arts space with an already-full roster of events.

Rio’s Santiago Calatrava-designed Museum of Tomorrow is in Porto Maravilha.

11. Rio de Janeiro: Museum of Tomorrow. Between the excitement of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, this is an off year for Rio—but that doesn’t mean it’ll be quiet in Brazil’s playground city. As part of its major public works program, the city is planning to open a Santiago Calatrava-designed Museo do Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow). Exhibits will explore the topics of science and humanity with an eye toward examining how our present choices and actions will affect the future of humanity. The spaceship-shaped museum will open later in 2015 on the Maua Pier in the waterfront Porto Maravilha cultural district. For tips on traveling to Rio and what to do there, check out this post.

Toronto’s new Aga Khan Museum is dedicated to Islamic art.

12. Toronto: Aga Khan Museum. The Prince Aga Khan is involved with cultural and philanthropic projects all over the world, but his latest and perhaps most impactful recent undertaking is the opening of this new Toronto museum dedicated to Islamic art and culture. It opened in September 2014 and houses a collection of over 1,000 objects spanning the 8th to 19th centuries and regions from Spain to China, tracking the history of Islamic art. The impressive museum building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki, is worthy of a visit in and of itself. For more information on traveling to Toronto and what to do there, check out this post.

Latvia’s new National Library was designed by Latvian-American Gunnar Birkerts.

13. Riga: National Library of Latvia. Opened in August 2014, this futuristic new library building along the Daugava River was designed by architect Gunnar Birkerts, and is called the “Castle of Light.” It is not only a national archive but also a performance and cultural events venue with a light-filled atrium and a sizable concert hall, and visitors to this little Baltic country can even just pop in for an hour-long guided tour of a building meant to symbolize the resurgence of Latvian education and culture to the rest of the world.

Orlando has a new $500 million performing arts center. Photo by Miriam Atehortua.
Orlando has a new $500 million performing arts center. Photo by Miriam Atehortua.

14. Orlando: Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. You might be headed to Orlando for fun in the sun at Disney World or Universal Studios, but plan to squeeze a little dose of culture in at this new performing arts center, which opened back in November 2014. The architecture team was led by Barton Myers Associates, while Artec Consultants and Theatre Project Consultants oversaw the acoustics and theater spaces respectively.

The building—which contains a 2,700-seat theater for Broadway-style musicals, a 1,700-seat opera and ballet hall, and a smaller 300-seat theatrical venue—cost nearly $500 million to construct. Its surrounding complex also includes an urban park where visitors can hang out before or after shows. Some of the performances you might want to check out in its inaugural season include “Motown: The Musical,” “Beauty and the Beast,” the Orlando Philharmonic performing “Scheherezade,” “Swan Lake” performed by the Orlando Ballet, and a stand-up routine by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. For more information on traveling to Orlando and what to do there, check out this post.

Singapore’s new National Gallery will be housed in its former City Hall and Supreme Court. Photo courtesy of Studio Milou.

15. Singapore: Singapore National Gallery. At present, Singapore’s major urban project is the renovation of its former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings in the historic Civic District into a new national gallery (at a total cost upwards of $500 million) that will showcase the country’s impressive collection of 19th- and 20th-century Asian art. Visitors can stroll through galleries that were formerly courtrooms, but at 60,000 square meters and more than 10,000 artworks (with 1,000 on display at any given time), this will be one of the largest visual arts museums in the entire region and will also feature components like restaurants and a rooftop garden with reflecting pools. The new building, designed by French firm Studio Milou and Singapore-based CPG Consultants, is slated to open in November 2015. For more information on traveling to Singapore and what to do there, check out this post.

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