The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (maat) in Lisbon, Portugal, reopened its doors on June 10 after closing down for the coronavirus pandemic, and visitors are now able to wander through SO – IL’s Beeline, a large-scale, multistory architectural intervention that doubles as a new entrance and front desk.
Beeline, which resembles something of a more durable, usable version of a Do Ho Suh installation, adds new vertical layers to maat’s home in a repurposed 1908 power station and was designed to host maat MODE, a six-month-long collection of research, public events, screenings, talks, and more. Maat MODE was arranged by the museum’s new director, Italian curator Beatrice Leanza, as an examination of cultural institutions and how the museum as a typology must evolve (a timely topic, given the squeeze museums are feeling right now). More than just a showcase for displays and a gathering venue, Beeline also added a new entrance to the maat Lisbon facing the city proper, as the building had previously only been accessible from the side facing the nearby riverfront.
“This not only transforms the way visitors enter and experience maat,” wrote SO – IL cofounder Florian Idenburg in a press statement, “but also challenges the implied hierarchies of spaces in a traditional museum and provide flexibility for an ever-evolving organisation.”
As part of Beeline, SO – IL also installed 15 mobile art storage units throughout the museum and two staging structures for The Peepshow – Artists from the EDP Foundation Portuguese Art Collection and Memovolts — Stories from the EDP Foundation Energy Heritage Collection, two collections owned by the EDP Foundation, the organization that founded maat Lisbon in 2016.
The museum is also kicking off its new season with Currents – Temporary Architectures by SO – IL, a retrospective of the firm’s work from the last 10 years. Twelve projects have been selected and paired off into six sets of two, displayed around the museum side-by-side so that guests can examine their thematic similarities and differences. Models, full-scale project mockups, books, “ephemera,” new graphics from the New York-based Geoff Han, and video from “Anne Surak, Berry Bergdol, Eva Franch I Gilabert, and Mark Lee” all add additional context and depth to the projects on display.