Art defines space. It improves social well-being, promotes culture, and provokes an emotive or cognitive response. A museum of art embodies these entities with a mission to enrich communities and bring people together. Within its walls, programs and experiences transform the visiting communities. Outside its walls, rear opportunities exist to extend the museum’s mission to society at large. How does a museum bridge that threshold?

RMW partnered with the San Jose Museum of Art to create a borderless museum, a gateway to art, an Art Portal. Portal, both in form and intent, the structure, comprised of a series of tubular aluminum portal frames provide a place to access related resources and experiences. The form’s transparency and continuity symbolize the museum’s goal of meeting its patrons where they are and inviting them to observe, absorb and engage with a potentially transformative experience.

RMW’s award-winning design allows for several configurations, which in turn provides maximum programmatic adaptability across indoor and outdoor venues, to hold workshops as well as performances. Its shape will stand out in any setting and offer use and engagement opportunities both inside as well as outside the portal. The materials and parts are chosen to make assembly and disassembly easy, to allow for integrating various add-on amenities, and for convenient transportation.

The pop-up Art Portal attracts multi-generational audiences at festivals, shopping malls, and libraries at the nexus of the local communities. Using the format of the Museum’s popular on-site Community Day programs, the pop-up art studio currently supports a variety of visual, literary, and performing art activities presented by Vietnamese artists and artisans (e.g., ceramicists, musicians, brush painters, poets) accompanied by participatory, hands-on activities. These creative activities are intended to appeal to multi-generational audiences and to encourage cultural retention and deeper engagement with art. The Portal offers a contemporary take on established practices—a hallmark of the San Jose Museum of Art’s obligation to act for the benefit of society at large.