m.a.x museo, Chiasso
Canton Ticino, Switzerland
Phone: +41 (0)91 682 56 56
Named after Swiss designer and artist Max Huber, the m.a.x museo in Chiasso, Switzerland, is a museum and a cultural center focused on contemporary graphics, design, photography, and visual communication.
Opened in 2005, the museum is housed in a beautiful building designed by Durisch + Nolli Architects; the museum’s mission is aimed to promote the collaboration between art, design, architecture, and creativity, as well as to present the work of Max Huber and other acclaimed designers and artists of the 20th and 21st century.
Born in the canton of Zurich, Max Huber (1919-1992) was one of the most influential graphic designers of the 20th century. In 1945, he moved to Milan, Italy, where he met and collaborated with influential designers and artists including Max Bill, Albe Steiner, Achille Castiglioni, Bruno Munari, and Gillo Dorfles. In his 50-year-long career, Huber conceived award-winning graphic designs and logos for clients such as Einaudi, RAI, ENI, Montedison, Rinascente, and Esselunga, as well as many designs for interiors, exhibitions, and products. He was awarded the Compasso d’Oro prize in 1954.
The architecture of the m.a.x museo – text by studio Durisch + Nolli Architetti sagl
The Max Huber Kono Foundation was the will of Aoi Huber Kono, after her husband Max Huber and her father Takashi Kono, both protagonists in the field of graphics in the past century.
From the meeting between Aoi Huber Kono and the Video-artist Silvano Repetto came the idea that the best way to remember the spirit of the two artists was to create a place where to promote culture.
The Foundation thus charged the architects to find an adequate location for this function and, once found, to give it shape: this is how the m.a.x. museum was conceived.
Thanks to the efforts of the mayor, the City of Chiasso made available the site of the dismantled Garage Martinelli, in front of the theatre. This industrial area was in a total state of abandon: a no man’s land in the middle of town, between the theater and the school campus. It was thus taken as the subject for a global regeneration: a “new place” was envisioned.
Adjacent to the museum, the existing garage was transformed into a multi-purpose hall: the “Spazio Officina”, where large surfaces inside and out are dedicated to culture. From the synergy among different institutions, public and private, with the new museum serving as a catalyst, a unique cultural pole was born in Ticino.
The m.a.x museo is a simple building where structure and space are balanced. The halls are wide and full of light, neutral and simple, to leave space to contents.
The facade of the museum is a large translucent window on the contents of the temporary exhibitions of the museum.
During the night, the void in the facade is lit, to exhibit its contents and to light the city: a dynamic facade that changes with time.
The m.a.x museo in Chiasso, Switzerland, exterior view; copyright Durisch + Nolli Architects – photo Tonatihu
Collection and program of activities
The collection of the m.a.x museo comprises mostly pieces of graphic design, visual arts, and photography by Swiss and international artists and designers including – along with Max Huber – Gabriele Basilico, Serge Brignoni, Paul Camenisch, Gillo Dorfles, Dario Fo, Elisabeth Eberle, Flor Garduño, Geoffrey Hendricks, Monique Jacot, Ingeborg Lüscher, George Maciunas, Enzo Mari, Imre Reiner, Terry Riley, Myriam Thyes, Pino Tovaglia, Michael von Graffenried, and Pierre Waidmann, among others.
The museum does not have a permanent exhibition; it features three to four temporary exhibitions a year, instead. The exhibitions are focused on themes such as art, graphic design, product design, architecture, and visual communication from the early 20th century to the present.
Along with exhibitions, the program of the m.a.x museo features research activities, workshops, educational and learning programs, concerts, and special events.
Images copyright Durisch + Nolli Architects – photo Minelli
Cover image, the m.a.x museo in Chiasso at dusk; image copyright Durisch + Nolli Architects – photo Minelli
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copyright Inexhibit 2023 - ISSN: 2283-5474