From Lady Liberty to Hollywood to the Middle East, These Are the Most Exciting Museums Opening in 2019

Visit new institutions devoted to mascots, spies, archaeological sites, American icons and much more this year

A rendering of the lobby of the Statue of Liberty Museum, featuring the statue's original torch (Courtesy of Statue of Liberty Museum)
smithsonian.com

The year ahead promises to be an exciting one for museum lovers. Brand-new institutions debut their collections and exhibitions as cherished museums reimagine themselves in grand new buildings. Located in major cities around the world, and a few off-the-beaten-path locations too, these museums feature everything from a kiosk that tells you what dog breed matches your personal appearance to the opportunity to watch scientists in action. These museums are high-tech, hands-on and designed with a 21st-century audience in mind.

American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog

New York, New York
Opening Feb. 8, 2019

A rendering of the exterior of the American Kennel Club's Museum of the Dog (Courtesy of American Kennel Club)
A rendering of the exterior of the American Kennel Club's Museum of the Dog (Courtesy of American Kennel Club)
(David Woo / American Kennel Club)
(David Woo / American Kennel Club)
(David Woo / American Kennel Club)
(David Woo / American Kennel Club)
(David Woo / American Kennel Club)

After 30 years in St. Louis, the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog will reunite with the club’s headquarters, library and archives located in midtown Manhattan. Home to one of the world’s largest collections of dog art, the museum’s new building is looking beyond its paintings, porcelains and bronzes to enter the digital era. Visitors can learn about AKC’s 193 registered breeds through a touchscreen table, train a digital dog and use the museum’s interactive app (ala Pokémon GO) to get a tour from “Art,” a virtual canine tour guide, through the art galleries. For anyone who’s wondered what they’d look like as man’s best friend, the “Find Your Match” kiosk lets guests take a picture of themselves, then matches them with their furry lookalike.

Petra Museum

Petra, Jordan
Opening Early 2019

The treasury of Petra, Jordan (roman_slavik / iStockphoto)

Described as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage” by Unesco and voted in as one of the new seven wonders of the world by Travel Channel viewers, Petra remains a spectacular archaeological site. The capital of the Nabateans — exceptional traders who settled in southern Jordan in the late fourth century, B.C., and controlled caravan routes between East Asia and the Mediterranean, the World Cultural Heritage site will be the home of a new museum to replace the small site currently housing the city’s artifacts. Set to open early this year, next to the main entrance to the archeological park, the new Petra Museum will educate visitors about the lives of the region’s former inhabitants through antiquities and interactive screens. Eight galleries on various themes will explore the civilization of what was called the Rose City, from ancient water technologies to Nabatean religion. Can’t make it to Petra anytime soon? Read about how digital archaeologists are using drones to recreate the 2,000-year-old city.

National Museum of Qatar

Doha, Qatar
Opening March 28, 2019

An aerial view of the National Museum of Qatar (Iwan Baan)
(Iwan Baan)
(Iwan Baan)
(Iwan Baan)
(Iwan Baan)

Inspired by the native desert rose, the new museum’s winding structure, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, is composed of giant interlocking discs and built around the 19th-century historic palace of Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, former emir of Qatar. Visitors to the National Museum of Qatar will be led through Qatar’s history, from pre-human geological Qatar to the current modernization of the country. Thousands of artifacts, including the gem-embroidered Pearl Carpet of Baroda are wedded with state-of-the-art technology to educate guests about Qatari history and culture. Smartphones can be used as a guide to the exhibits, and patrons can enter high-tech “cocoons” to hear recorded oral histories from locals.

Mascot Hall of Fame

Whiting, Indiana
Opened to public December 26, 2018. Grand opening April 5, 2019

The exterior of the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Indiana. (Courtesy of Mascot Hall of Fame)
Visitors are greeted by the heads of the mascots inducted into the hall of fame. (Courtesy of Mascot Hall of Fame)
Led by Reggy, the mascot of the Mascot Hall of Fame, visitors learn how to dance like a mascot. (Courtesy of Mascot Hall of Fame)
Interactive elements let kids play and learn at the Mascot Hall of Fame. (Courtesy of Mascot Hall of Fame)
Kids can build their own "Frankenmascot" at the Mascot Hall of Fame (Courtesy of Mascot Hall of Fame)

What began as an online hall of fame in 2005 is now housed in a vibrantly colored physical building on the south shore of Lake Michigan. Founded by Dave Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic, the Mascot Hall of Fame is heaven for sports’ furriest sidekicks. Guests can take in the history of mascots, learn how mascots are made and view mascot memorabilia from around the world, including the Phanatic’s shoes and the full costume for Moonchester, the soccer mascot for Manchester City, the English Premier League squad. Kids (and kids-at-heart) can design their own mascots and brush up on their mascot skills with interactive activities including launching virtual t-shirt cannons into crowds. Chosen by a committee of performers and sports executives, a select group of professional and collegiate mascots have been inducted every year since its inception to recognize their outstanding performances and impact on their communities. This year’s honorees include Chicago’s Benny the Bull and Tommy Hawk, Penn State’s Nittany Lion and Kansas City’s Sluggerrr.

Statue of Liberty Museum

New York, New York
Opening May 2019

An exterior rendering of the Statue of Liberty museum (Courtesy of Statue of Liberty Museum)
(Courtesy of Statue of Liberty Museum)
A rendering of the lobby of the Statue of Liberty Museum, featuring the statue's original torch (Courtesy of Statue of Liberty Museum)
(Courtesy of Statue of Liberty Museum)

Security measures put in place after the 9/11 attacks meant that only one-fifth of visitors to the Statue of Liberty made it into the museum inside the statue’s base. A new museum, located near the statue but not beneath it and in a sustainable building whose design riffs off the statue’s copper structure and granite base, will allow all patrons to learn about the history and construction of the beloved icon, with great views of the Manhattan skyline to boot. In addition to multimedia displays illustrating how the statue was designed and constructed, visitors will also get to take a virtual tour inside the statue and see how it’s served as a symbol of liberty around the world. The centerpiece of the museum will be the statue’s original torch, replaced in 1986, that weighs in at a whopping 3,600 pounds.

International Spy Museum

Washington, D.C.
Opening Spring 2019

A rendering of the exterior of the new International Spy Museum (Courtesy of International Spy Museum)
(Courtesy of International Spy Museum)
(Courtesy of International Spy Museum)
(Courtesy of International Spy Museum)

The grand reopening of the International Spy Museum, in a new building double the size of its predecessor, comes at a time when questions of spycraft and counterintelligence dominate the news. Tracing the history of espionage from Ancient Greece to our modern era, interactive exhibitions and the world’s largest public collection of spy artifacts show how surveillance tactics have evolved and shaped our societies. New exhibits explore the intelligence behind the raid that assassinated Osama Bin Laden and transport visitors to communist East Berlin, complete with a recreated Stasi checkpoint office that uses original artifacts. An Aston Martin DB5 — made iconic by the James Bond movies — will greet people as they enter the lobby.

K11 Musea

Hong Kong
Opening Summer 2019

(Courtesy of K11 Musea)
(Courtesy of K11 Musea)

While anyone is welcome to K11 Musea, this museum was designed specifically with millennials in mind. Inspired by research that describes Asian millennials as “content-driven super consumers,” according to a press release, this museum unifies art and retail in an architecturally stunning space. In addition to showcasing a rotation of world class artists, the space itself will seek to attract audiences with a truly multimedia experience. “Living walls” coated in greenery span 50,000 square feet of both the interior and exterior, and an outdoor amphitheater with a 25-foot-tall LED screen will be used for cultural events.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Los Angeles, California
Opening late 2019

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Where Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside the Movies, concept illustration for “Imaginary World” gallery, outer space montage. (cademy Museum Foundation/Gallery Design, Rick Carter and Gallagher & Associates, Artist Illustration, Erik Tiemens)
Rick’s Café Américain doors from Casablanca (1942). (Joshua White / Academy Museum Foundation)
Clapperboard for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes(1953). Gift of Michael Forman and Cinerama, Inc. (Joshua White / Academy Museum Foundation)
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Where Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside the Movies, concept illustration for “Imaginary World” gallery. (©Academy Museum Foundation/Gallery Design, Rick Carter and Gallagher & Associates, Artist Illustration, Erik Tiemens, Edward Scissorhands(1990), ©Twentieth Century Fox; Black Panther(2018), ©Marvel Studios)

The Oscars have been a Hollywood tradition for nearly 90 years, but this year, the annual celebration of movies will become an everyday occasion with the opening of a new museum run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The museum’s permanent exhibition will explore the history and process of filmmaking around the world. Visitors will learn how the first films were made, get to see classic film memorabilia like Dorothy’s ruby slippers (a different set than the one at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History) and the door to Casablanca’s Rick’s Cafe, and immerse themselves in the world of special effects, featuring a recreation of the “Stargate Corridor” from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The museum’s first rotating exhibit will explore the career and animation techniques of Hayao Miyazaki — creator of Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away. Two theaters will be housed in the museum, capable of screening films in multiple formats, including those from the earliest days of film history.

Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement

St. Petersburg, Florida
Opening Fall 2019

A rendering of the exterior of the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts movement (Courtesy of Two Red Roses Foundation)
(Courtesy of Two Red Roses Foundation)

A reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the Arts and Crafts Movement represents a period when artisans hearkened back to the pre-mechanized world to “create environments in which beautiful and fine workmanship governed.” The only museum to explicitly focus on the late 19th and early 20th century movement will provide 40,000 square feet of gallery space to house businessman Rudy Ciccarello’s private collection of furniture, pottery, tile, metalwork and lighting. The building itself will be evocative of the movement, which focused on bringing artistry and craftsmanship into everyday design. Along with windows inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum will be constructed with natural materials like American white oak and natural stone. Those looking to dip their toes in the art form will have ample opportunity: a graphic arts studio and darkroom will be used for teaching purposes, as well as an area dedicated to children’s education.

Burke Museum

Seattle, Washington
Opening Fall 2019

Courtesy of Burke Museum

Visitors to the Burke Museum won’t just get to see some of the more than 16 million artifacts in its collection, they’ll also get to see how pieces go from nature to the display case. The natural history museum was founded in 1899, making it the oldest museum in Washington, and houses the world's largest collection of spread bird wings. Its most recent home, built in 1962, is 60% percent smaller than the new building. Designed to foster learning about the research process, the new building will present opportunities for guests to watch scientists in action and have hands-on learning experiences side-by-side with museum exhibits. Currently, Burke scientists are preparing a T. rex skull for display in the paleontology gallery when the new building opens, where it will join wooly mammoth and dinosaur skeletons.*

Jackie Robinson Museum

New York, New York
Opening December 2019

(Courtesy of Jackie Robinson Museum)
(Courtesy of Jackie Robinson Museum)
(Courtesy of Jackie Robinson Museum)

Jackie Robinson wasn’t just a baseball icon, he was a civil rights luminary as well. The Jackie Robinson museum, operated by his eponymous foundation, aims to tell both the stories of Robinson the player and Robinson the person, using the historical context of the Civil Rights Movement as a supporting backdrop. Interactive elements will spark thought and discussion about baseball, segregation, citizenship and personal identity. Multiple galleries in the lower Manhattan destination will take guests through Robinson’s life with artifacts including baseball equipment from famous games and the wedding dress worn by his wife, Rachel. A theater reminiscent of an old-time stadium will show a feature with interviews, historic footage and home videos of Robinson and the era he lived in.

Stewart Indian School Museum and Cultural Center

Carson City, Nevada
Opening Fall 2019

In the late-19th and early-20th century, the U.S. government sent thousands of Native American children to boarding schools to become assimilated into Euro-American culture. The state-run Stewart Indian School Museum and Cultural Center will endeavor to tell the stories of these children and the effects the Stewart school had on their lives. The main exhibit will take visitors through the average day of a student attending the school, using iPads to share photos and firsthand accounts. Additionally, the museum will provide visitors access to traditions of various tribes through displaying contemporary Washoe, Paiute and Shoshone art and offering language classes.

Cook Museum of Natural Science

Decatur, Alabama
Opening 2019

Exterior of the Cook Museum of Natural Science (Courtesy of Cook Museum of Natural Science)
(Courtesy of Cook Museum of Natural Science)
(Courtesy of Cook Museum of Natural Science)
(Courtesy of Cook Museum of Natural Science)
(Courtesy of Cook Museum of Natural Science)
(Courtesy of Cook Museum of Natural Science)
(Courtesy of Cook Museum of Natural Science)

This museum is not for the squeamish. What began as a small collection of bugs used to educate pest control employees in the ’60s grew to become a permanent museum with more than 1,200 different specimens of insects, mounted animals, rocks and minerals, and shells and corals. The new building — seven times the size of the museum’s previous home — will present the collection in ways more conducive to learning. Visitors can go through a winding cave environment to see rocks and minerals, climb and slide down trees to learn about the flora of the southeastern United States, and marvel at jellyfish and corals in saltwater aquariums. The museum will also have an insect section with everything from tarantulas to Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

*Editor's Note, January 17, 2019: An earlier version of this story misstated the location and size of the Burke Museum's dinosaur fossil.

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