The State Hermitage Museum and AMO launch a joint venture to create the Hermitage 2014 Masterplan
(Rotterdam/Saint Petersburg, 25 January 2008) AMO and the State Hermitage Museum enter a new phase of their relationship to collaborate on the development of a visionary masterplan for the Hermitage. Inspired by the unique potential of the classical institution within the contemporary moment, the initiative will marry the extensive knowledge and historical rigor of the Hermitage with the experimental creativity and conteporary engagement of AMO to create an unprecedented cultural joint venture.
The year 2014 marks the 250th anniversary of the State Hermitage Museum. In anticipation of the historical moment, the encyclopedic museum – with its two thousand rooms and three million artifacts – offers itself as incubator and laboratory for a defining vision of the universal institution within the generation to come. Over the next year, the ideas and ambitions of the AMO/Hermitage team will manifest themselves in a comprehensive masterplan for the institution – covering its global agenda to its urban and architectural programming to its curatorial strategies and display methods.
The Hermitage has survived three critically different periods of Russian history, but its existence as an exclusive enclave, buffered from contemporary events and dutifully devoted to conservation has persisted. Though oft perceived as a classical conservative museum, the remarkable character of the Hermitage– largely independent from market forces though heavily political; a historical masterpiece holding historical masterpieces; encyclopedic in size and scope but striking in its details; a constant conflation of art and history, memory and experience – is the basis from which the team will begin to interrogate and assert its potential as the definitive contemporary universal institution.
The mutual interest and curiosity between OMA/AMO and the Hermitage was seeded in early 2001 upon the commission for the Hermitage Guggenheim exhibition center in Las Vegas. In 2003, the relationship was fomented with AMO’s study for the Hermitage’ extension of the General Staff Building. During this time AMO’s radical ‘modernization-by-preservation’ posture began to take shape, and the architectural dimensions of the brief reconceived. The sensibility and approach of the proposal led to AMO’s commission as consultant for the General Staff Building extension (2003-2005), and were instrumental in the formation of the collaborative think tank and ambitious Masterplan project launched today.
The Masterplan will be initiated by the creation of a (self-)portrait of the institution – a body of extensive research and critical and comparative analyses. This compilation of distilled knowledge and thought will serve as the conceptual basis from which innovative proposals and experimental case studies will be generated. The strategic proposals will be centered upon different aspects of the Hermitage: its global mission, national position and urban situation; its relationship to the city of St Petersburg as both protagonist and microcosm; its historically layered architecture, rooms, collections and objects – and the orchestration of their latent potentials. The ideas and proposals set forth will be refined and tested through a number of case studies, which will include an urban intervention, the conception and design of one of the museum’s permanent exhibitions, and the design of a temporary exhibition.
Addressing the global debate, and further informing the ideas, the team will organize four international seminars related to central issues of the investigation, with leading specialists and cultural figures. The Hermitage 2014 Masterplan project itself will also be documented and presented in the form of a final international exhibition and publication.
The project is lead by AMO/OMA Founding Partner Rem Koolhaas with Talia Dorsey as project architect.
Previous collaborations include the architectural and programmatic conception for Munich’s Haus der Kunst’s future development, and the editing and development of the forthcoming publication Lagos: How it Works.
The counterpart to OMA’s traditional architectural practice is AMO, a design and research studio based in the company’s Rotterdam office which is supervised by Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf.
While OMA remains dedicated to the realization of buildings and master plans, its subsidiary AMO is a think tank that operates in areas beyond the boundaries of architecture and urbanism - including sociology, technology, media, fashion and politics.
Currently AMO is working for the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg) and for fashion house Prada. In addition it is engaged in studies for the European Union and various OMA projects. AMO’s resume includes work for Universal Studios, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Harvard University, Conde Nast, Heineken, and Ikea. Recent works include the development of in-store technology for Prada, a strategy for the future of Volkswagen, a strategy for TMRW, new organic fast food chain and work for Platform 21, new design institute in Amsterdam.
At Venice in 2005, AMO explored the expansion of the world’s museums and art galleries and investigated whether large extensions were necessary using the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg as example. In 2006 AMO exhibited The Gulf, a survey of key territories in the Middle East. The exhibition allowed them to present the results of their in-depth research into this area which culminated in the publication Al Manakh in July 2007.