Great Exhibition Spaces

Your Name
Mariela Santelices
Jan 8, 2022 1:43 AM
Linked Student

I was actually at the SFMOMA yesterday, and I was thinking a lot about this project while I was there. The building looks totally different from each side and had a lot of different colors and textures on the facade. It had a grand entrance with extremely high ceilings (5 stories in the very center with a massive skylight), wide stairs leading up to the ticket area, and the gift shop had a large window facing the street that you walk by when you enter the building. I really loved the stairs between the exhibition floors and the adjacent wall; the wall was curved, and you felt sort of cocooned as a result. From the top of each flight, you could see the stairs going up to the next floor through a window. The space was not super wide but had massively high ceilings which was a unique feeling. The stairs were lit from the side, giving them the impression that they were floating. There was a lot of natural light and the way that some of the flights were positioned, you felt guided up them. There were a couple of things that I did not enjoy about the building though. The first was that the galleries themselves were very confusing to walk through, and I didn’t feel like I was being guided through the space in a logical manner (which is something I’ve enjoyed in other exhibition spaces), although it was probably intentional. My second issue was that at first, my family and I could not find the stairs for the life of us which was slightly annoying (but that was probably our own fault). The last thing that I thought the spaces were missing were some benches where you can sit and admire the works of art, which is one of my favorite things to do when going to a museum.

Summary: (mostly for myself)


  • stairs (lights, width and non-linear configuration)
  • high ceilings
  • neutral wall colors (preferred black walls)
  • natural light
  • grand entrance
  • unique and inviting façade


  • confusing gallery layout
  • hard to find stairs
  • lack of benches
  • lack of easy/quick exit from the gallery

Another space I liked was the Louvre, obviously one of the most iconic museums in the world. It also had that grand entrance and high ceilings, but once you were in the galleries, the layouts made a little bit more sense than in the MOMA and there was usually an obvious way that you were supposed to progress (at times though, it did really feel like a maze, and when you were inside a gallery it was hard to tell what floor or where in relation to the outside world you were, which was fun in a way but also a little disconcerting). It also has the unique and iconic pyramid in the center of the museum, which is of course the entrance. It’s the “face” of the building, and like the MOMA, it’s very memorable. My favorite part about the architecture of the Louvre was the giant interior courtyard space. It was so enormous and you felt like you were outside, but the ceilings were glass. I also really loved the park outside of the Louvre, I’m not sure if that counts but I feel like when I’m done at a museum, all I want to do is sit or walk outside in the sun and fresh air.