Brazil’s “Museum of Tomorrow”: Reaching a Global Audience?

Moving past the enamoring facade of Rio de Janeiro’s new Museum of Tomorrow (the structure moves with the sun in order to fuel the solar panels), the museum has the lofty aspirations of targeting a global audience. Given that Rio will host the summer Olympics this year, the museum will certainly have the opportunity to reach a large patron base. The museum was conceived as “a futuristic science museum that looks decades ahead and was specifically designed to elicit an emotional response.” The overall purpose of the exhibits and content are to show “the effects of humans on the planet and what Earth might look like 50 or more years down the road.” I found this to be particularly interesting. The museum utilizes the exhibits to orient guests to the planet’s future. Designers created 5 exhibit sections with the guiding questions of “Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we now? Where are we headed to? And how do we want to get there?” The wording of these questions and exhibit labels are purposefully ambiguous. Any visitor can read the text and immediately identify with the climate issues presented regardless of cultural background, ethnicity, or gender. Despite the optimism the museum and the article present, there is an undertone of collateral damage. Gentrification pops up several times in the article. The author also notes that “The development project is not without controversy: It sparked the ire of some Rio residents, who claim that the building has pushed out poor citizens and was an unnecessary expenditure ahead of the 2016 Olympics.” Throughout the past two semesters we have discussed inclusion, community, and target audiences. This article seems to compound these issues. Are the designers adopting a utilitarian ideology with regard to visitorship? Are we seeing a genuine attempt by a museum to move beyond  local boundaries and expand into the global community? Or is this just another example of the poor folk being pushed out in favor of “progress?”

Imagining an Alarming Future at Brazil’s Museum of Tomorrow

The ambitious museum looks at where humankind is headed—and asks how they’ll live in a post-climate-change world

SMITHSONIAN.COM
MARCH 15, 2016

A new sentry stands guard on Rio de Janeiro’s harbor: a white, beamed canopy that rises from the ground and points toward the sky—and the future. The Museum of Tomorrow‘s intricate architecture moves with the sun, morphing and changing all day long. And inside this innovative building lies something even more dynamic—a futuristic science museum that looks decades ahead and was specifically designed to elicit an emotional response.

This museum for a new generation doesn’t contain any historical artifacts or meditations on how people in the past lived and survived, aside from quick multimedia overviews of how humans came to exist on Earth. What it holds is far more important to the future world: exhibits showing the effects of humans on the planet and what Earth might look like 50 or more years down the road. Each installation incorporates scientist-outlined visions of where the planet is headed in regard to climate change, population size, lifespan, technology, biodiversity and cultural integration—and points to the possibility of a more sustainable future. The museum leads visitors on a journey through five distinct sections. Each attempts to answer a fundamental question: “Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we now? Where are we headed to? And how do we want to get there?”

It’s a complex—and interactive—journey. In Cosmos, visitors lay back to face a movie screen for a short video about Earth’s geology and evolution. In the Earth portion, they investigate three large cubes to learn about where human beings came from. The first contains an installation showing two tangled scarves dancing on wind, meant to represent matter in flux. The next cube revolves around DNA, and the last investigates culture and relationships through 1,200 images.

Then it’s time to head into Anthropocene, the centerpiece of the museum. The section focuses on the new Age of Man, modern times in which humans have flourished on—and irreparably impacted—Earth. Visitors stand in the middle of a cluster of 32-foot-high video screens that assault them from every direction with images of destruction. Statistics on how humankind has modified (and often destroyed) Earth flash by along with everything from charts that show how much energy, water and meat are consumed by humans to growing population graphs to images of buildings that spew putrid black smoke into blue skies. From there, suitably horrified guests walk on to the Tomorrows exhibit, where they can play interactive games to learn about different possibilities for the future and how their life choices could affect humanity’s survival.

The development project is not without controversy: It sparked the ire of some Rio residents, who claim that the building has pushed out poor citizens and was an unnecessary expenditure ahead of the 2016 Olympics.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/brazil-museum-future-180958171/#JBeydH08g4iluAgQ.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: