Chicago Museum of Film and Cinematography


Chicago, U.S.A, 2014

Stories take place between reality, time, dreams, and illusion. They dissolve the borders between being awake and being asleep; between reality and fantasy. Much like dreaming, listening to a story means to be passive while actively letting your mind wander. Like the beloved Alice in her Adventures in Wonderland, we are constantly speculating if she is dreaming or awake, delirious or sane? The audience, when experiencing a good story or work of architecture should get drawn into the scene so deeply that reality and illusion merge.
Storytelling forms an essential part of human nature, as it works beyond cultural boundaries and overcomes age-related differences. The way in which stories are told makes them tangible and capturing the essence of this tangible experience is what we aim to achieve with the design for the CMFC. With its varied collections of artifacts related to visual storytelling, the museum opens up different worlds to be explored by both the young and the old. It invites visitors to get lost within different stories that pile upon each other. Unexpected encounters with images and relics from widely known stories raise the suspense.
The exhibition concept and the architectural design are deeply integrated into one another, supporting a sustained, rich experience of CMFC’s unique collections. Seeing building and exhibition; form and content; as one, enables the visitors to unreservedly dive into the last 100 years of film while simultaneously being inspired by the art of storytelling. Furthermore, the integration of architecture and exhibition elevates the visitor’s orientation within the museum. Similar to the White Rabbit leading Alice through Wonderland, the building subtly guides the visitors through the museum as though a companion.


Client: Undisclosed
Location: Chicago, U.S.
Program: Museum of Film and Cinematography
Building surface: 34.880 m2
Status/Phase: Design


Ben van Berkel with Christian Veddeler, Ren Yee and Harlen Miller, Jan Hafner, Andres Lopez, Patrik Noome

Exhibition Designer: hgmerz
Structure, Sustainability and Energy Engineering: Werner Sobek
Lighting and Media Consulting: Light & Soehne
Visualisations: Kilograph