The future has arrived: Rio’s Museu do Amanhã (The Museum of Tomorrow)
In less than a month, the world will be witnessing the opening of its first Third Generation museum – dedicated to study, predict and discuss the scientific and technological developments of the next 50 years, focusing on sustainability and ecology. The questions the museum will try to answer are: where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we? Where are we heading? How do we wish to get there?
It will be located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More precisely, on the Pier Mauá, in the waterfront district of the city. The Museum of Tomorrow, designed by well-known Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is part of the ambitious local Wonder Port Project, an urban renewal initiative aiming to redevelop some 5 million m2 around the Rio harbor area. The museum project is funded by the local City Hall with the support of two private institutions: Fundação Roberto Marinho and Banco Santander.
First generation museums are history museums, dedicated to the preservation and study of the past. Second generation museums depict current technology, while third generation museums look to the future.
Features and benefits
Impressive looking, the museum’s sustainable structure replicates a futurist spaceship about to take off from Pier Mauá, which juts into the Guanabara bay across from the Rio-Niteroi Bridge, one of the most famous landmarks of the city. The exhibition area, consisting of two floors connected by ramps, covers 15,000m2 and will be surrounded by gardens, leisure areas, reflecting pools and bike paths, totaling 30,000m2.
Inside the museum, on the ground floor, there will be a restaurant, a store, an auditorium, administrative offices, rooms for research and educational activities plus areas for temporary exhibitions. On the upper floor, the museum will offer a space for permanent exhibitions, a café and a panoramic lookout.
The Museum of Tomorrow has been constructed by recycled materials produced in the surrounding areas, will be cooled by the Guanabara Bay waters, and boasts a photovoltaic ceiling in the shape of movable wings, composed of solar panels which will follow the movement of the sun, capturing as much energy as possible for lighting and internal power.
Despite being the obvious choice to lead such a monumental project, due to his track record of complex aesthetics and innovative designs, 64-year-old Santiago Calatrava remains a controversial figure, bombarded by frequent criticisms on going overbudget in his estimates, on the faulty structure of some of his works and, last but not least, on his overpriced honorariums, which he considers “professional”. His record, however, is strong, consisting of a dazzling and revolutionary set of constructions, including the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain; the Turning Torso skyscraper in Sweden; and the roof of the Athens Olympic Stadium.
I guess Brazilians will have to keep their fingers crossed, hoping everything will go according to plan in this new investment and wish we may never regret the choice to have employed Mr. Calatrava. Brazilians are not great at suing: we lack the practice and the processes are hampered by a corrupt and bureaucratic judicial system. Nevertheless, we can be ruthless in venting our anger and frustration through social media channels. You will not want to get a taste of Brazilian vitriol on the Internet, Mr Calatrava.