Zaha Hadid’s Riverside Museum Named European Museum of the Year

(Photo: Alan McAteer)

Visitors can arrive at Riverside Museum in Glasgow by foot, bicycle, bus, subway, train, ferry, or car. The variety of options is fitting for Scotland’s “Museum of Transport and Travel,” which opened the doors to its new home, designed by Zaha Hadid, in June 2011. The museum bested a field of 40 museums from 21 countries to take the title of 2013 European Museum of the Year, an honor presented last month in Belgium. Judging for the 36-year-old award is based on “public quality,” the extent to which a museum satisfies the needs and wishes of its visitors.

The jagged outline of the Riverside Museum “enscapsulates a wave or pleat, flowing from city to waterfront, symbolizing the dynamic relationship between Glasgow and the shipbuilding, seafaring, and industrial legacy of the river Clyde,” according to Hadid. Views through the building’s clear glass facades reveal one of its most memorable features: pistachio-hued walls. Chosen by Hadid in consultation with the exhibition designers, the color makes for a warm yet striking backdrop for displays that range from a wall of automobiles and a ceiling-mounted swirl of bikes to exhibits about long-sunken paddle steamers and glam tramcars from the 1930s.