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The Global Spectacular: Contemporary Museum Architecture in China and the Arabian Peninsula

Karen Exell

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This book provides, for the first time, a visual documentation of the wave of 'starchitect' designed museums under construction in certain Arabian Peninsula states, in China, and emerging economies, such as Azerbaijan and India. It offers a sustained architectural critique of the style of these new museums and suggests they represent a new dynamic in the production of cultural spaces. Karen Exell argues projects and finished buildings by the likes of Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry and Norman Foster+Associates are less connected to regional cultural production than to globalized capitalist modernity, and contrasts this globalised aesthetic with the architecture of smaller museums that responds to more traditional regional materials and construction methods. These projects are less well known, but no less striking in their thoughtful and richly contextualised architectural approach, and reveal a nuanced interpretation of the role and function of contemporary museums. For anyone seeking to understand the profusion of grand architectural projects within the cultural sector of emerging economies, The Global Spectacular provides invaluable insight into the varying socio-economic contexts driving their development and poses vital questions about their likely impact.

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