Mother Earth Living

Recycled Art Museum Travels the World

An eco-architect creates a recycled art gallery.
By Vivienne Jannatpour
January/February 2006
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Gregory Colbert’s photographs are displayed in this recyclable gallery.

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It looks like a Lego fantasy come to life. Checkerboard walls made from steel shipping containers and towering columns of recycled paper tubes shape a “nomadic” museum—created to showcase a photography exhibit—that can be rebuilt to fit whatever space is available.

Shipping walls

Photographer Gregory Colbert commissioned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, known for his work with recyclable materials and moveable structures, to build a museum that would travel with his “Ashes and Snow” photography exhibit and reflect his eco-sensibilities. Thirty-seven of the museum’s shipping containers transport the exhibit materials; the rest are rented on location.

Sacred space

Inside, Colbert’s large-scale photographs of humans communing with wildlife are suspended in midair along two cathedral-like galleries.

Next stop

Having completed Manhattan’s Pier 54 show last June, the museum is headed to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles (January 12 through June 4), where its building blocks will be adapted to its new space.

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