RUSSIAN JEWISH MUSEUM

Museum (competition)

Moscow, Russia

2007

The Russian Jewish Museum is a new cultural institution set within Melnikov’s 1927 Bus Depot. Its mission is to expose local, national, and international audiences to the history of Jewish culture and promote tolerance. The museum design incorporates the most important features of the Constructivist work— its parallelogram plan devised for parking efficiency, its wide structural clear span, and its system of combed skylights that disperse natural light throughout the shed. The 20,000 sq m program includes an intervention into the historic structure and an addition floating above it; both set the historic building on display. The program is hybrid: a history museum of existing and new artifacts and a kunsthalle for contemporary art. Each program has distinctive requirements, audiences, and circuits. The historic museum has a proscribed circuit and defined narrative; the kunsthalle is characterized by flexibility for work at all scales and media. The two exhibition circuits flank one another to either side of a large, open and unprogrammed central axis along the spine of skylights. Bridges and escalators spear the space providing alternate routes between exhibitions. The historic circuit uses additional space below the ground. The contemporary circuit ascends through the roof structure to the “sky gallery” that floats in striking contrast to the shed below.

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