The Nomadic Museum is a 56,000-square-foot temporary structure housing Ashes and Snow, an exhibition of large-scale photographic works by artist Gregory Colbert

The 185-foot-wide by 350-foot-long museum is currrently under construction adjacent to the Historic Santa Monica Pier. The Santa Monica structure is architect Shigeru Ban’s second iteration of the Museum, which is constructed of shipping containers originally sited at Pier 54 in NYC from March 5 to June 6, 2005.

The structure, which will be disassembled and reconstructed as Ashes and Snow travels, provides a transitory environment that evokes the journey of the exhibition Sustainable post-industrial design utilizing recycled and reusable materials. The Museum is constructed of 152 steel cargo containers. The majority of the shipping containers are rented, while the remainder will be used to transport the museum as it travels from venue to venue. The containers are stacked in a checkerboard pattern 34 feet high to form the walls of the three wings of the museum, and the openings between the containers are secured with a diagonal membrane panels. The total height of the museum, including the peaked roof, is 56 feet.

The structure of the roof trusses is partially constructed of one-foot diameter paper tubes that rest on two-and-a-half-foot diameter paper tube vertical support columns. The tubes are connected in segments so that they can be dismantled and shipped from place to place in the containers used for the wall structure. The aluminum trusses and roof membrane are engineered to be easily deconstructed, stored and shipped to future locations.

  The column-free central hall of the museum contains a large-format digital cinema, naturally lit bookstore and information center. The entrance to the museum provides a dramatic view all the way down the central walkway to small film theaters at each end. These smaller theaters play a series of short video “haikus”.

The central 12-foot-wide walkway composed of 1" hickory planks is bordered on either side by bays filled with black river stones, over which the unframed artworks are hung from thin cables and suspension rods installed between the paper columns. A series of divisions of the space is formed from diaphanous hand-made curtains made of one million pressed paper tea bags from Sri Lanka.

A one-hour 35mm film by Colbert, narrated by acclaimed actor Laurence Fishburne and edited by two-time Academy-Award-winner Pietro Scalia, is digitally projected onto a large-format screen in a column-free theater.

Upon exiting the exhibition, a naturally lit bookstore is formed of cardboard tubes, a paper wall system and recycled wood panels displaying various editions of handmade books. a staffed information desk is located at the end of a serpentine display counter.

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