The Newest Destination in Rio de Janeiro
By: Anne Jones
The Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã) in Rio de Janeiro may soon become known for one of the planet’s most powerful arguments for sustainability. The museum itself is the most striking example of the regeneration Rio’s port district. Ten years ago, this was one of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden areas. Today it is in the midst of a vast redevelopment that should make it one of the most desirable areas in the city.
“The city of Rio de Janeiro is setting an example to the world of how to recover quality urban spaces through drastic intervention and the creation of cultural facilities such as the Museum of Tomorrow,” said the designer of the extravagant structure, the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
The design of the Museum was inspired by the Carioca culture and through its architecture, explores the relationship between the city and the natural environment. “The idea is that the building feels ethereal, almost floating on the sea, like a ship, a bird or a plant,” said Mr Calatrava
Funded by the Rio city government with support from sponsors, the building attempts to set new standards of sustainability in the municipality.
The building features sustainable design, incorporating natural energy and light sources. Water from the Guanabara´s bay is used to regulate the temperature inside the building; this source also supplies water for the Museum’s surrounding reflecting pools. The Museum also uses photovoltaic solar panels, which can be adjusted to optimize the angle of the sun’s rays throughout the day and generate solar energy to supply the building. The Museum uses 40% less energy compared with conventional buildings.
“The essential concept of the museum is that tomorrow is not ready,” said curator Luiz Alberto Oliveira. “Tomorrow will be a construction. We will participate in this construction as members of the human species.”
The Future usually seems very far away, however tomorrow is closer and it depends on what we do today. That is main message that conveys the Museum.
Inside The Museum of Tomorrow
The main display is almost entirely digital, focusing on ideas rather than objects. Visitors are challenged through displays that show the origins of the planet and our possible future, to wonder about where we came from, where we are and where we are going.
To explain “where we come from,” there is a “Cosmic Portal,” which shows the film of Hollywood ´s director, the Brazilian Fernando Meirelles. The film compresses billions of years of natural evolution in eight minutes of a sensory overload.
In an interactive exhibition that asks, “where we are going,” visitors can calculate their own environmental impact based on their lifestyle. Also, calculates how many planets would be needed to support the humankind if everyone on Earth had the same standard of living.
Next is the heart of the museum and its message – a cluster of digital totems 10 meters -As Stonehenge- that literally overwhelms the visitor with data and environmental disaster images. Stand in the center of these large screens and speakers is an impressively confusing experience. Clips of burning forests, melting glaciers and dense traffic are inset along with a real-time counter of global births and deaths, plus the latest data on the consumption of energy, water and meat.
If that is not enough to convince the viewer, an emotional soundtrack booms out as giant letters flash up in three languages: “We have lived on earth for 200,000 years … Since 1950 we have modified the planet more than in our whole existence…”
For anyone who believes the biggest challenges facing our species are environmental rather than economic and that the most likely solutions are behavioral rather than technological, Rio’s Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã) may come to stand out as one of the most engaged museums in the world. Undoubtedly, the Museum of Tomorrow became one of the best destinations to visit in Rio today.
Anne Jones is a freelance writer with broad experience in reporting about fashion, lifestyle and entertainment
Take a Virtual Tour at The Museum of Tomorrow