The 10 Newest International Museum Openings of 2019

Journey with Travel Channel to 10 of the newest destination-worthy museum openings, from the Statue of Liberty Museum in NYC to the National Museum of Qatar.

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Photo By: Getty Images for Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation

Photo By: Iwan Baan

Photo By: Nic Lehoux, Courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP)

©Claudio Von Planta, Courtesy Muzeum Susch

Photo By: Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center

Photo By: MUŻA Museum

Photo By: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Photo By: K11 MUSEA


Photo By: Norton Museum of Art

The Statue of Liberty Museum, NYC

Long overdue, the 26,000-square-foot Statue of Liberty Museum opened on Liberty Island May 16, revealing a glass-enclosed structure divided into three gallery sections. The main attraction is undoubtedly the statue’s original torch from 1884, which, unlike today’s, contained a glowing flame. (Permanent damage forced the original to be replaced in 1984.) Among the other museum attractions are an immersive multimedia film that shares the statue’s history and a section that recreates designer Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi’s construction process. While an on-site museum already existed, its location in the statue’s base limited the number of visitors. Not only does the new version eliminate that problem, but entry is free with the purchase of a ferry ticket.

National Museum of Qatar, Qatar

The National Museum of Qatar took its place among world-class institutions when it officially opened on March 28 along the waterfront in Doha’s capital. French architect Jean Nouvel, the man behind the recently unveiled Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed the 560,000-square-foot museum. From the outside, the buildings resemble a trail of sand-colored rose petals; the desert rose, a naturally occurring crystal formation that’s found in the Qatari desert, served as the building’s main inspiration. Inside, the 11 galleries take visitors on a chronological journey from Qatar’s beginnings to its present: Of note is the restored palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. The collection itself encompasses local and global artists, both established and emerging and ranges from ancient treasures, such as the Pearl Carpet of Baroda, to interactive exhibits.

International Spy Museum, Washington D.C.

The popular International Spy Museum moved into its new home in May, a brand-new building with a bold exterior that’s as mysterious as its contents. Located on L’Enfant Plaza, the museum is now about twice the size of the original. A complete refresh extended to the exhibits, with updates addressing current issues such as whistle blowing, interrogation techniques and cyberwarfare. There are also more interactive elements and the opportunity to test out your spy skills. Some favorites have returned as well, like the air duct escape and unexpected spy gadgets.

Muzeum Susch, Switzerland

Back in January, Muzeum Susch opened in an unlikely town in an unlikely place. The new contemporary arts museum is tucked away in Susch, a part of the Swiss Alps that’s home to about 200 people. As for the building, it spent past incarnations as a 12th century monastery and a 19th-century brewery. During the renovation, new spaces were carved from the surrounding mountain, creating hobbit-like caves. Polish billionaire Grażyna Kulczyk is behind the new venture, created to showcase the work of women and other underrepresented artists. The museum’s first exhibit explores aspects of feminism via "A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women."

Snoopy Museum Tokyo, Japan

The first (and only) satellite branch of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in California opened in Tokyo’s Roppongi neighborhood in 2016. The Snoopy Museum Tokyo closed in 2018 not due to a lack of popularity, but in order to relocate to a brand-new development in Tokyo that’s still being constructed. The new space will double the footprint; the previous iteration contained more than 200 Snoopy-related items, such as original comic strips, and staged five exhibitions. Targeting a December 2019 reveal, the Minami Machida Grandberry Park location will display even more drawings and exhibits, and include a children’s club, private library, museum store and cafe.

MUŻA, Malta

In December 2018, a new community art museum, MUŻA, culminated Valletta’s reign as the 2018 European Capital of Culture. The museum occupies the historic Auberge d’Italie building, where the Italian knights of the Order of St. John met in the 16th century. Not coincidentally, the building once housed the original Malta Museum when it opened in 1924. The new version is home to more than 20,000 pieces of art, including those from the former National Museum of Fine Arts, which closed in 2016. And apropos for the 21st century, the building now features green initiatives such as solar panels.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, L.A.

Brought to you by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (you know, the group responsible for the Oscars), the $388 million Academy Museum of Motion Pictures hopes to open by the end of 2019, and will encompass 300,000 square feet in the renovated Saban Building. Famed architect Renzo Piano designed a new addition (unintentionally resembling the Star Wars Death Star) that will house a theater for film premieres and presentations. The main building will span six floors and pull from an extensive collection that ranges from one of the original ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz to the creature’s head from Alien. Adding to this will be galleries that cover independent Indian films and women directors, along with immersive and interactive elements. Upcoming exhibitions will explore the work of anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and recognize African-American contributions from 1900-1970.

K11 Musea, Hong Kong

K11 Musea is the latest addition to the international K11 chain known for its art malls. Currently limited to Asia, this newer breed is a hybrid museum/mall experience that’s geared toward global millennials. K11 Musea will be the chain’s largest undertaking, combining high-end retail like a MoMA Design Store with dining and entertainment options; the closest comparison may be the brand-new Hudson Yards district in NYC. Opening by the end of 2019, the museum aspect will entail a world-class, public art collection scattered throughout the premises at Victoria Dockside, but details are still forthcoming.

Lumen Museum of Mountain Photography, Italy

It’s not everyday that you can ski to a museum. Lumen Museum of Mountain Photography debuted in the Italian Dolomites at the very end of 2018 in a former funicular station, perched at about 7,400 feet above sea level. Opened by Reinhold Messner, a legendary mountaineer, the 20,000-square-foot museum is dedicated to mountain photography, from its history to the work of the best international photographers. Spanning four floors, its one permanent exhibit is dedicated to Messner, who can count summiting Mount Everest without oxygen as one of his many accomplishments. While the entire museum takes advantage of the views, an on-site, glass-enclosed restaurant that’s cantilevered on stilts makes for a dramatic dining experience.

Norton Museum of Art, FL

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach dates back to 1941, but in February 2019 the museum unveiled the results of a $110 million renovation. Visitors will now find a new store and restaurant, Great Hall, 12,000 square feet of additional gallery space and an expansive lawn and sculpture garden. A drastic improvement involves the amount of natural light the museum now receives, along with expansive views of the surrounding landscape. The expanded museum still features a Dale Chihuly installation and big draws like Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, while an inaugural exhibit showcases American painter Nina Chanel Abney.

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