Getty Conservation Institute announces workshop for conservation of three museums designed by Le Corbusier

Getty Conservation Institute announces workshop for conservation of three museums designed by Le Corbusier
[Ahmedabad-Chandigarh] India
metalocus, INÉS LALUETA
Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh. Courtesy of the Government Museum and Art Gallery
Getty Conservation Institute announces workshop for conservation of three museums designed by Le Corbusier
The workshop—part of the GCI’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative, which seeks to advance conservation of 20th-century heritage—will be held in India, where two of the three museums are located. The third museum is in Japan. Both the municipal corporations from Ahmedabad and Chandigarh are acting as hosts for this event and are providing support. In addition, the Fondation Le Corbusier, headquartered in Paris, will be participating in the event.

The workshop will include representatives from all three museums (who will be gathering for the first meeting of this type), and will focus on improving both architectural conservation and collections management for each building. The workshop will be conducted February 4-6 in Ahmedabad and will conclude February 8 in Chandigarh. On the evening of February 5, a public lecture will be held in Ahmedabad, where representatives of each museum will make a presentation, followed by a GCI-led panel discussion.

The three museums were designed by Le Corbusier in the 1950s and 60s, and were the only ones to come out of his prolific career. Based on his concept of a “museum of unlimited growth,” he created what he considered an ideal museum plan that allowed for future expansion. The three museums are similar in size, shape, floor plan, and exterior appearance, and share features such as sitting on an elevated pilotis, or thick concrete columns, and an exposed concrete frame with concrete floors and roof. Each museum was also designed to occupy a large plaza or open space, and is part of a cultural center.

“By asking the museum participants to consider what is significant about their respective museums as individual buildings and as part of the larger collected work of a great architect, each can better develop the necessary conservation policies to care for these significant buildings and their important collections,” says Susan Macdonald, head of Buildings and Sites at the GCI. “They will also discuss shared conservation challenges and potential solutions, thus creating a network of stewards of these important museums.”

The GCI’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI) was created to advance the practice of conserving 20th-century heritage through research and investigation, the development of practical conservation solutions, and the creation and distribution of information through training programs and publications.

Building Details:

Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, India

The entire city of Chandigarh was designed by Le Corbusier, and the Government Museum and Art Gallery (completed in 1968) plays an important role in its cultural life. It also reflects Le Corbusier’s modern design principles, which are fundamental to Chandigarh’s identity as a model modernist city. The museum houses one of the largest collections of Gandhara sculptures as well as a collection of Pahari and Rajasthani miniature paintings. The museum has identified several challenges related to how best to exhibit and care for the building and its diverse collection of art, and how to manage environmental issues that affect both the collection and the visitor experience. It is addressing these issues by developing a Conservation Management Plan, which is being supported by a 2017 Keeping It Modern grant from the Getty Foundation.

Sanskar Kendra Museum, Ahmedabad, India

Sanskar Kendra (completed 1954) currently houses the popular Kite Museum, which contains examples of traditional Gugarati paper and fabric kites. Its City Museum exhibition tells the story of Ahmedabad and its diverse cultures using objects such as large medieval coins, scripts and documents in Devnagari and Urdu, pottery, and frescoes. BV Doshi, a renowned Indian architect who is still practicing architecture in Ahmedabad, worked with Le Corbusier on the original design and construction of the museum.

National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan

The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan (completed in 1959) is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in in Ueno Park, north of the Imperial Palace. Three Japanese architects – Kunio Maekawa, Junzo Sakakura and Takamasa Yoshizaka – worked with Le Corbusier on this project, which symbolized restored diplomatic ties between France and Japan after WWII. The museum has a large number of visitors, with a professional staff who oversee a robust program of exhibits and public programs, and who carefully manage the building. Additions were added in 1979 and in 1994. Major seismic improvements have also been done, and future additions are also being considered in order to accommodate growth.


Charles Édouard Jeanneret-Gris was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland in 1887. He is best known as Le Corbusier, one of the most important architects of the XX Century that together with Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rore and Frank Lloyd Wright rise up as the fathers of the Modern Architecture. In his long career he worked in France, more