The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee has unveiled the design concept for its new home on the banks of the Mississippi river. The 105-year-old institution will be relocated atop a bluff in the city’s historic district, blocks from the iconic Beale Street.
The new 112,000-square-foot space is highly anticipated not only because of its size but also because of the design team behind it: Herzog & de Meuron, which also conceived the buildings for the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York, and the soon-to-open M+ museum in Hong Kong. The firm’s Memphis Brooks Museum of Art project was developed in collaboration with local firm archimania, and is expected to open its doors in 2026. Until then, the museum’s Overton Park structure will remain in operation.
Each permanent exhibition gallery at the new building will be accessible from the first floor. Those galleries are arranged around a central courtyard with an uninterrupted loop surrounding it. In advance of its construction, curators are rethinking the permanent galleries so that they place a greater focus on art from Africa, Asia, South America, and its respective diasporas.
In particular, curators are increasing the visibility of contemporary African American art. The museum has recently acquired works by artists including Sanford Biggers, Rick Lowe, and Vanessa German. Works such as these are expected to be on view alongside pieces that have been in the collection for years, including paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, installations by Marisol, and photographs by William Eggleston and Ernest C. Withers.
“We at the Brooks understand that we’re in a unique position to consider what an art museum can be in the 21st century,” Mark Resnick, the museum’s director, said in a statement. “We’re beyond gratified to enter this next chapter in our new home, tailored-made to our needs.”
The new Brooks is the cornerstone of an ambitious six-mile-long waterfront cultural revitalization, which includes additional recreational areas, a law school, and a new public library. The museum is slated to break ground on the Herzog & de Meuron–designed structure in 2023. According to the museum, $150 million is needed for the project, and more than $90 million has been raised to date.