Rio de Janeiro’s new museum, focusing on ideas rather than objects, ecology more than technology, is a little trippy, a little hippy, very worthy but rarely dull.
Museum of Tomorrow which opens Thursday, must already rank as one of the world’s most extraordinary sustainable buildings. But once the public starts to visit this weekend, it may soon also become known for one of the planet’s most powerful arguments for sustainability. Mixing science and art, the 230m reais (£40m/$59m) institution devotes itself to a topic that is divisive and often depressing: the need for change if mankind is to avoid climate disaster, environmental degradation and social collapse.
For Mayor Eduardo Paes – who will inaugurate the building at a ceremony with President Dilma Rousseff – the museum is the most striking example yet of the regeneration and gentrification of Rio’s port district.
Ten years ago this was one of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden areas. Today it is in the midst of a vast redevelopment that should make it one of the most desirable areas in Rio. The overhead expressway – the Perimetral – has been demolished, new plazas have opened up, the poor have been driven out and the wealthy corporate residents, including Trump Tower developers, are being invited in. To attract them, a new Museum of Art was completed here two years ago. It is impressive, but the Museum of Tomorrow is on another scale altogether.