International Museum of the Baroque, Puebla

We may have saved the best till last. The recently opened Museo Internacional del Barroco (2017) is quite simply breathtaking. It was designed by Japanese ‘starchitect’ Toyo Itō who was inspired by what he perceives as the three characteristic elements of Baroque art: Movement, Natural Light as Chiaroscuro and the Man-Nature relationship. The most striking feature of the building are the curvilinear shapes which play with light and shadow, generating a sense of movement both outside and inside. 

“We try to break and dissolve the cold and rigid order to achieve fluid spaces… we hope that when people move from one room to another, they experience a baroque space.” 
– Toyo Itō

The building is as stunning in form as it is monumental in scale at 18,000 square metres. But it’s also the sheer audacity in designing such a beautifully elegant structure that seems to go against everything that Baroque stands for, namely exuberant rich detail, gaudy opulence, over the top grandeur and incredible intricacy. According to some reports, the final build cost was around US$390 million, with finance from the State and Federal Governments as well as private investors. It was also designed to be earthquake proof, which has been put to the test a number of times in recent years, proving its engineering chops.  

As you enter the Museum the massive size and seeming simplicity of the design continue inside. There are narrow windows of glass that reveal a shimmering azure pool and gleaming white internal curved walls – a whirlpool of water churns as if time itself is being played with. 

Internally, a massive polished concreate curved staircase has an almost organic sensibility, taking the eye up to reveal cut-away shapes of blue sky in the ceiling and shafts of light that beam down onto the floor, reminiscent of our experience in the opulent Cathedrals and Churches of Puebla. It’s quite mesmerising. 

The museum’s permanent exhibitions are various expressions of Baroque art over multiple rooms, some of them vast with ultra high-tech immersive audio-visual experiences that present an abstract interpretation of Baroque imagery, patterns, music and art. It’s a little bewildering if the truth be told, as you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking at, and how it relates to the story of Baroque, but it’s nonetheless fascinating in its bold graphicness and quite thrilling to move around in the dark whilst the walls and floor pulse with movement. 

In another darkened room, Baroque paintings are projected as an audio-visual experience and where you’re encouraged to stand on a marked spot and animate your arms to ‘conduct’ an explosion of colour across the images, all set to rousingly propulsive Baroque music. 

There is a permanent collection of Baroque art and objects in other vast interconnected rooms that tell the Baroque story using interactive touch screens, video mapping technology and large model recreations of Baroque buildings, city scapes and reimagined theatres and houses: Theatrum Mundi: The World as a Stage; Puebla de los Angeles (displayed as a detailed model of the Centro Historico with the buildings lit from within, presenting different times of the day); The Baroque Feeling: Architecture; The new order of time: Painting and Sculpture; The allegories of knowledge: Letters and Sciences; Delight and Move: Theatre, Costume and Decorative Arts; The Ear: Music and Dance. 

The spaces have been designed to create dialogue between the art of the past and contemporary contemplation – between the Baroque and the Neo-Baroque – to inform us that Baroque is more alive today than we think. This museum certainly makes you feel that it is.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Skinner says:

    Wow! move over Frank Gehry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Were you able to play the videos?


      1. Michael Skinner says:

        Yes – a new standard in backyard pools!


  2. Bevanlee says:

    Indeed best for last. Amaze balls 👏👏😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Were you able to play the videos?


      1. Bevanlee says:

        I was indeed. I loved the whirlpool one.


      2. Excellent! We’ve just arrived in Mérida so expect a change of pace with posts, more laid back troppo!


      3. Bevanlee says:

        Time to chill, after your cultural thrill 😍

        Liked by 1 person

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