The idea of a new building was born seventeen years ago, when the Grand Duchy became one of the six founding countries of the European Union, and the authorities decided to support the image of Luxembourg not only as an economically prosperous state, but also as an important cultural center of the continent. However, the very idea of creating a collection of contemporary art, and its architectural embodiment in the form of a project by J.M. Pei met with resistance in the most diverse circles of the conservative-minded society. As a result, his concept was revised several times, design and even construction was suspended. Only in 1997 was the site for the museum determined: the ruins of the Tungen fortress (1732), which were included in the new building. In 1999, construction began, but then was interrupted for four years because Pei wanted to use only golden limestone from France for his construction, and this gave rise to many new problems.
Also, difficulties arose with the collection: since there was never a collection of 20th century art in Luxembourg, it had to be created. Due to limited funds, there was no talk of buying works by Dali and Picasso: the vast majority of the exhibits from the 230 objects belonging to the museum belong to the period after 1980. But, according to the director of the museum, Marie-Claude Beaux, it is designed to further expand the collection, to collect art of the future, art of the XXI century.
The complex is located in the middle of a park, between two business districts of the city. Its defining feature is the greenish glass tower above the main atrium, reminiscent of the fortress over which it was built. Almost all the floors of the main tier are made of glass, so most of the halls have natural light. On the ground floor there are two small galleries and a lecture hall. Outside, the walls of the museum are faced with honey-colored limestone, the main entrance of the museum is a complex spatial composition in the form of a niche. The total area of the building is 10,000 sq. m, of which 4,800 sq. m - exhibition space. The museum bears the name of the Grand Duke Jean, who has now transferred the management of the country to his son Henri.