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Contributing to the balanced coexistence of humanity
Space for Women Architects
“Teeter Totter-Wall”, a seesaw between borders
- Sustainable World
Remembering is not looking back … it is taking a step forward.
There are boundaries that mark a dark past in our history, with a future-oriented vision of advancing our limits, ethics and values in order to promote a better coexistence of all human beings.
This philosophy underlies the Museo Memoria y Tolerancia (Memory and Tolerance Museum) in the heart of Mexico City. A museum that aims to: learn from our history, reflect on our role in the world and take action for our society with well-founded and applied positive boundaries.
Its main goal is to promote tolerance through historic memory and show that differences do not destroy, rather they complement. Education, as a means for reflection, is what inspires the creation of this museum to generate a positive change in our deteriorated society.
A museum that should never have existed.
Ten years after its opening in October 2010, the museum continues to teach and disseminate to the world and to Mexican society the value and importance of tolerance and diversity through teaching about the Holocaust and other ethnic genocides in a conscious way.
The museum is made up of the remembrance of genocides caused by racial discrimination (memory) and the unforgivable legacy it leaves us, committing to raising awareness of the boundaries, ethics, values, respect and richness of diversity (tolerance). It provides a space for reflection within a democratic and multicultural framework for the proper development of current and future generations.
The spatial design of this icon rests upon a continuous contextual base where an access gateway stands out over the impressive Plaza Juárez. There we find the seven-story main volume, which contains “Memory and Tolerance” like two open hands that in turn, hold (and contain while it floats) the main subject of the inner space: ”El Memorial de los Niños” (The Children’s Memorial).
We believe that the only hope for humanity lies in the education of future generations. This is why the children’s memorial floats in space as if it were the heart of the museum, with a dual objective: on the one hand, to remember the approximately two million children exterminated in genocides, representing the most irrational act of hatred there can be: killing a child. On the other hand, to promote the awareness and education of children, as this is the only way to eradicate hatred and prejudice, contributing to humanity in terms of boundaries, values, ethics and respect for a balanced coexistence.
The museum faces an important challenge as it must deal with issues related to death, the value of life and tolerance. That is why the psychological role within architecture and museography was the approach chosen to design every corner of it.
Genocides and crimes against humanity included in the Memory section are: the Holocaust, Armenia, former Yugoslavia (Srebrenica), Rwanda, Guatemala, Cambodia and Darfur. The account of these genocides in the museum starts in the upper level and moves downwards. The museographic topics and their architectural reflection perfectly blend here, providing visitors with different spatial sensations that play with their conscious and unconscious emotions by means of contents, light (both natural and artificial), videos (with uncensored content), material elements of victims, colors and sound effects. All these combined together generate a positive reflection in visitors, fostering a change that favors an attitude and reflection on the positive value of life and its coexistence with human beings.
For us, as creators of the architecture and its cohesion with museography, it was a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which had a positive impact on us that will remain over time, encouraging us to fight for and disseminate the values of life.
Memory and tolerance, a museum that presents today and forever in a conscious and unconscious way the best thing we have in life: freedom.
I truly wish this museum did not have to exist.
Main image: Memory and Tolerance Museum, Mexico City, Arditti + RDT Arquitectos. Photo © Paul Czitrom