The EMRCA concept represents the convergence of a cluster of ideas:

  • The notions of Art Museums as ultra-sophisticated theme parks: in some ways, certain successful exhibitions at the Guggenheim in New York-- the Art of the Motorcycle; the Giorgio Armani Retrospective; the architecture retrospectives of Zaha Hadidand Frank Gehry; and the broad historical surveys such as China: 5000 Years, Brazil Body and Soul, and Africa: the Art of the Continent—  signaled the audience appeal of these directions. 

  • Concepts of Miniaturization, Motion and “Experience” tourism: public audiences have long been fascinated with miniaturization, and EMRCA presents precise 1:48 miniature modeling on an unprecedented scale, enhanced by continuous motion, immense scale video projections, and both virtual and augmented reality experiences.


  • Precedents: Early in this process, after participating in a panel on “Extreme Culture” at UCLA which had only two panelists—  Scott Trowbridge, the head of Disney Imagineering; and me-- I visited LACMA to see Chris Burden’s sculptural piece Metropolis II, which was generally known as the single most popular work in the museum. It was an epiphany for me, and immediately called to mind Norman Bel Geddes’ Futuramaat the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, which was visited by over 5 million people over a six month period. When I focused on the architecture/train concept, I also visited a place I never heard of before called Miniatur Wunderlandin Hamburg. Installed in a 3rdfloor industrial space walk-up, MW was packed, it is billed as Hamburg’s #1 tourist destination, and attracts over 1.2 million visitors per year. These three events were the direct inspiration for EMRCA.


  • High Impact; low capital and operating cost: The notion of building an extremely stylish, but relatively low cost “industrial shed” for architecture, essentially one room, a 100% installed interior environment. The content of EMRCA, budgeted at $16M, is essentially a one-time cost, maintained and moderately upgraded over time, but amortized over time and with a very low operating and capital cost basis compared to other world-class museums.


  • Audience: In addition to the international train buff/model train enthusiasts community, 36 million people live within half day’s drive of North Adams, which is twice that of Boston in the radius of an equal distance, and 50% more than Los Angeles or Chicago. In short, it a half day’s drive at most to the Berkshires, and a family oriented attraction as well.


  • For-profit Museum: I have long speculated about creating a for-profit art museum and the various threads of a successful enterprise have come together in the EMRCA concept: the content and audience drivers; general context; a popular attraction, low annual operating cost; with the potential for a spectacular/distinctive building.

  • Spectacle/Scale/the Bilbao model: The image spectacle, and both interior and exterior scale of the new building, can be a critical factor in EMRCA’s  success. The Zhu Pei design echoes of high speed trains and its generous scale will make impossible to ignore, and it is likely to become a media image darling.  The architects of gothic cathedrals understood and interior scale is the pathway to heaven. The EMRCA interior space is twice as long as both the Serra Gallery in Bilbao, and Giants stadium in East Rutherford. And like those spaces, EMRCA is column free as well.

This summary of the EMRCA and the North Adams Cultural District Master Plan contains confidential and proprietary information belonging exclusively to GCAM1 LLC.  Copyright © 2019  All Rights Reserved.