Record number of museum buildings open in 2021 and 6 more takeaways from a new report on global cultural investment

Given the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years, it may come as a surprise that so much money continues to flow into building ambitious museums and new cultural projects around the world. But the latest edition of Cultural infrastructure indexan annual report produced by AEA Consulting shows it.

The report, now in its sixth year, measures investment in cultural sector investment projects around the world, which must have a budget of $10 million or more to be considered. The study found that after a predictable decline in 2020, due to wider pandemic lockdowns, 2021 showed an extraordinarily robust rebound in new buildings and projects.

Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the construction, completion, and the opening of cultural infrastructure projects in 2020, causing their volume and value to decrease by around 30%, and creating uncertainty about the future development pipeline. However, in 2021, “the data paints a rather different picture as we record the highest number of completed and announced projects since our first publication in 2016,” according to the report. Last year, a total of 211 projects were completed, more than double the previous year and 174 projects were announced, up by a third.

Source: AEA Consulting

Furthermore, although the volume of infrastructure development seems rebounded faster than the report’s authors anticipated, more lasting changes are likely to be seen in the nature of projects. This is the first year that AEA Consulting has included a category for “adaptive reuse projects” in addition to new buildings, renovations and expansions. They represent a growing segment of total investment as project managers seek to minimize waste while maximizing social value and relevance to local communities.

The report highlighted Depot Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, calling it “competitor for the world’s most sophisticated publicly accessible art storage facility to date”. Opened in November 2021 and located in the Museumpark in central Rotterdam, the $100 million structure stands next to the Boijmans Van Museum The main building in Beuningen which is closed for renovation until 2025.

It was designed by the Dutch company MVRDV, and the building is clad in 1,664 mirrors and surmounted by 127 trees planted on its roof. Impressive, te Repository contains the entire collection of 151,000 works, housed in 14 storage areas with five different climates on six floors. Visitors can register for guided tours, in which small groups are shown around the storage facilities and gave an overview of the sprawling collection and the systems in place to maintain and manage it.

Here are seven other takeaways from the latest report.

Philadelphia Museum of Art © Elizabeth Leitzell.  Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art © Elizabeth Leitzell. Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

1. 2021 was a record year for announced investments and projects

A total of 211 large-scale cultural infrastructure projects were completed in 2021, with a total value of $11.2 billion – the highest annual volume and value of completed projects recorded since AEA Consulting began to follow the projects in 2016. from a plunge last year when only 104 projects were completed with a value of $5.7 billion,” according to the report.

It was also a record year for announced projects, which rose 34% from the previous year to 174. The value of announced capital investments, however, did not keep pace, rising from 8.2 billion in 2020 to $6.5 billion as the median project value fell. 24% from $40 million to $30.5 million. The decline can be attributed, at least in part, to several major project announcements recorded in Shenzhen, China in 2020 which were valued at $2.5 billion together.

2. Growth was driven by nonprofits and private investment

Growth in 2021 was driven by non-profit and private initiatives, which increased in volume by 118% and 200% respectively for completed and announced projects. In comparison, investing in public projects – while still accounting for 47% of total infrastructure – fell by 21 percent. The volume of public-private and commercial projects has been more or less consistent with the previous year, although the value of completed commercial projects explode following a lull in 2020, from $28 million to $26 million million). This is “perhaps a sign of increased confidence as we adapt to a new COVID-tolerant operational reality,” according to the report.

Source: AEA Consulting

Source: AEA Consulting

3. North America is the most active region

On a geographic basis, the number of completed projects increased in all regions except Africa. The majority of construction took place in North America, with 92 completed projects, i.e. 44% of the total. Europe accounted for 55 projects, or 26% of the total, while Asia had 42 projects, or 20% of the total and Australia/New Zealand, Middle East, America and Africa together accounted for 22 completed projects, only 10% of the total. Announced projects have a similar regional distribution, with a lower investments in Asia compared to record year last year. They fell 71%, from $3.6 billion to $1.1 billion.

Luma Arles © Sérgio Nogueira: Alamy Stock Photo

Luma Arles © Sérgio Nogueira: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Museums are the most popular type of project

Museums remained the dominant building type, accounting for 51% announced and realized projects and representing $8.9 billion in total investments, up 29% over the previous year. efficient arts centers were the second most popular form, accounting for 24 percent of of projects, and also saw an increase in investments amounting to $4.8 billion, up 72% from the previous year. Multifunctional arts venues accounted for 17% of projects, aand “cultural hubs/districts” accounted for 8% of projects.

5. The rise of adaptive reuse projects

The number of announcements of new construction projects fell this year to 91 from 102, as the expansion and renovation projects both increased, accounting for $972 million and $1.2 billion in investments, respectively. New the category of adaptive reuse projects will now be monitored annually. This year, 22 adaptive reuse projects were completed and 18 were advertised with a combined value of $1.6 billion.

6. Most Active Architecture Firms

The report found that the most frequently hired architectural practice was Gehry Partners with four projects this year. David Chipperfield, Foster + Partners, Herzog & de Meuron, Olson Kundig, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Renzo Piano had three projects each.

Since 2016, the most committed practices have summer David Chipperfield Architects (11 projects), Herzog & de Meuron (10 projects), Gehry Partners (8 projects) and Olson Kundig (8 projects).

7. The most expensive projects

The three most important projects completed in 2021 were: M+ Museum at West Kowloon Cultural Hong Kong District with a reported budget of $760.0 million; MUNCH, Oslo, Norway at $632 million; and the Accademia Museum of Motion Pictures, in Los Angeles, California, at $482 million.

During this time, the three main projects announced were: First Nations Cultural City, Melbourne, Australia ($286.0 million); Natural History Museum, Baoding, China ($254.0 million); and the cultural district of Ngurra, Canberra, Australia ($227.0 million).

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