ah… Mexico Exhibition Design
“De ninguna manera volveré a México. No soporto estar en un país más surrealista que mis pinturas.”
(By no means will I return to Mexico. I cannot stand being in a country more surrealistic than my paintings.) – Salvador Dali
Last month, I married a woman born in Mexico and we have been going to Mexico City for events with her family. In the past I had a wonderful experience working on the opening of Museo Interactivo de Economía (MIDE) in Mexico City.
Each time we visit Mexico I try to go see a museum. On this last trip we went and visited Universum on the campus of UNAM the University of Mexico. The museum visit got me thinking about the differences between exhibition design in Mexico City and the USA.
The campus of Universum is south of the center of Mexico City. Arriving at the Science Center is less than impressive, peeling paint, cracked sidewalk and uncut grass.
The entrance and ticketing experience is also less than impressive one ticket window open and a line to get into the Center. We went to the top floor and started working our way through the Science Center. At first I was nonplused, a feeling of “I have seen this before”. Then I rounded the corner and found two white sculptures of male and female genitalia, “wait a minute, I have never seen this before”. I Kept walking to find an interactive kiosk with a young couple discussing sexuality asking the visitor questions. I was struck, this is an exhibit about sexuality. I visit at least one museum a week for fun and work and I have never seen as straight forward an exhibit as this on sexuality. The exhibition was flat, actual and answered questions. The topics included how to put on a condom, how to deal with incest, rape, sexual violence, bullying and sexual excitement to name a few of the topics covered. The exhibition and the museum impressed me by their flat, factual “museum voice” at every exhibit the museum “spoke” in a direct flat manner delivering very difficult content.
Overall I was struck by the stance of a Science Center taking on such difficult topics in an unapologetic manner. No matter the topic, using the bathroom, taking antibiotics, using contraception the museum was straight forward, direct and light hearted. By the time I reached the first floor of the museum I was blown away, every large city in the world should have such a Science Center. Often us museum professionals get caught up in the “new” and here I was a Science Center handling topics such as proper hygiene, kudos !
I have had similar experiences visiting Art museums in Mexico City, museums taking chances that I seldom see in the USA including group interaction, group discussion areas, Art programming and use of emerging technology. On the whole I see museums in Mexico taking chances that I seldom see in the USA. I am impressed by how many museums and galleries have a friendly factual “museum voice”, that draws the visitor into the experience. Over and over I find myself emotionally involved with museum’s content, there is no higher praise for a museum.
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