Nothing kick-starts a city like a new museum. Major cultural projects were a little thin on the ground in 2016, but 2017 will be a busy year in the international art calendar.

As well as esoteric destinations like Washington’s Museum of the Bible and Marrakesh’s mecca for fans of YSL style, there are a host of cities and countries getting their first major modern art gallery, everywhere from South Africa to Canada and Abu Dhabi. Here’s a selection of new museums opening in 2017.

Astana World Expo, Kazakhstan

New museum Astana Expo
Courtesy of Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill

Opening June 2017
World Expos are almost always exotic architectural zoos, and Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill’s monumental suite of circular pavilions is set to continue the trend. Astana’s first Expo opens its doors next June with a theme of zero-energy design and sustainable urbanism.

Second World War Museum, Gdansk, Poland

New museum Second World War Museum Gdansk

Opening in the first half 2017
Gdansk’s biggest cultural project for many years is a spectacular if sobering monument to Poland’s darkest hours, its cataclysmic experiences during WWII. Studio Architektoniczne Kwadrat’s competition-winning scheme features dramatic concrete forms thrusting out of a landscaped new plaza.

Exhibition Road at the V&A, London, UK

Exhibition Road at the V&A
Courtesy of AL_L and the V&A

Opening July 2017
The V&A is one of the most long-established and highly acclaimed museums in the world, but that hasn’t stopped it from undergoing a constant programme of updates and enhancements. The latest major project is Amanda Levete Architects’ competition-winning scheme on Exhibition Road, a new plaza, gallery and café that will soon radically change the way the museum addresses the rest of culture-rich Kensington.

King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

New museum the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture
A rendering of the Centre, courtesy of Snøhetta

Opening in the second half of 2017
Rising up from Saudi’s eastern deserts like a collection of sand-smoothed pebbles, the King Abdulaziz Centre is a petro-dollar-funded foundation for ‘creativity and knowledge’. Long delayed but now practically finished, the smooth façade – actually formed from countless kilometres of winding steel tubes – envelopes a library, education centre, auditorium and museum.

Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa

New museum Zeitz Mocaa
Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio

Opening 23 September 2017
Heatherwick Studio is putting the finishing touches to South Africa’s first international art gallery, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, designed to house industrialist Jochen Zeitz’s impressive collection of the continent’s art. Cut from a concrete grain silo, the huge adaptive reuse project also hosts a rooftop hotel above the art.

Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC, USA

New Museum of the Bible
Courtesy of SmithGroupJRR

Opening November 2017
A museum dedicated to the holy book needs to tread a fine line in a country that’s declared itself done with truth itself. Yet maybe post-factual Washington is the perfect spot for this self-proclaimed non-denominational look at the history, society, geography and culture chronicled in the Bible. The tech-filled brick and glass Museum of the Bible is designed by SmithGroupJJR.

Yves Saint Laurent Museum, Marrakesh, Morocco

New museum Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech
Courtesy of Studio KO, Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent

Opening autumn 2017
Studio KO have created a veiled façade for the new museum dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh. The designer and his partner Pierre Bergé lived in the city for many years, restoring the elegant Jacques Majorelle garden, alongside which will sit the museum. A new Paris space is also on the way, recreating YSL’s studio in its heyday.

National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), Athens, Greece

EMST Athens
Photography: George Nesis, courtesy of EMST

Opening autumn 2017
Athens’s well-publicised financial woes have delayed but not halted this massive new museum of art. Housed in the FIX building, a long concrete slab that once served as Greece’s best-known brewery, the EMST looks set to put a bit of fizz back into this former industrial townscape. It partially opened in October 2016, with the full opening schedule for late 2017.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto

New Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto
The Tower Automative Building, ahead of its transformation. Courtesy of MOCA

Opening autumn 2017
A massive adaptive reuse project by architectsAlliance will transform an early-20th-century industrial structure into Toronto’s first dedicated MOCA, giving the institution its own building nearly 20 years after it was founded. The historic Tower Automotive Building is being retained, with the first few floors given over to art, exhibitions and events when it opens in late 2017.

Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE

New museum Louvre Abu Dhabi
Courtesy TDIC and Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Opening November 2017
This one’s been a long time coming, existing for many years as an impressive virtual form amongst a sea of similar unbuilt schemes. But Jean Nouvel’s massive dome for art is reportedly nearing completion, five years after originally planned. Beneath that huge form will be a tantalising world of art, light and water, promising a visitor experience unlike any other.

ICA Miami, UCA

New museum ICA Miami
Courtesy of Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos

Opening 1 December 2017
Miami’s new role as the pivot point of the global art world will soon be cemented by a permanent base: the all-new Institute of Contemporary Art is set to wow visitors to the 2017 Art Fair. Designed by Spanish studio Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos, the free new museum will also incorporate a sculpture garden.

Beit Beirut, Lebanon

New museum Beit Beirut
An artist’s impression

Opening late 2017
In an ideal world, Beit Beirut will one day be all that remains of the conflict that has scarred this region for decades. The new museum and cultural centre is being created by architect Youssef Haidar from the remains of the battle-scarred ‘Yellow House’, a neo-Ottoman villa dating back to the 1920s. It was used as a sniper base in Lebanon’s civil war.

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, Jakarta

New museum MACAN Jakarta
Courtesy of Met Studio

Opening late 2017
Designed by MET Studio, the new Museum MACAN will be Indonesia’s first dedicated international modern art gallery. Intended as both a window onto the collection of local businessman Haryanto Adikoesoemo and the city of Jakarta itself, the glassy new structure sits atop a development in West Jakarta’s Kebon Jeruk.

Read next: Inside the new Design Museum – London’s cathedral for design



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