Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City.
An Architectural Space for the Coexistence Among All People.
The history of humanity is tarnished with episodes that have catalyzed the most incomprehensible acts to the human mind, the extermination of mankind by mankind.
The Museum of Memory and Tolerance highlights these irrationalities, providing information advocating peaceful and respectful coexistence among all people. It is therefore of great significance that the conceptual design of the building relates to its context.
About its Social Importance
The Museum of Memory and Tolerance integrates the remembrance of genocides provoked by racial discrimination (Memory) and the unforgiving legacy that this leaves us with, and must lead us to, respect of others and coexistence in diversity (Tolerance). This museum provides Mexico a space of study within a democratic, multicultural frame for the development of future generations.
About its Spatial Concept and Content
Arditti + RDT designed the Museum with the rooted belief that the only hope for humanity lies in the education of future generations. Therefore, the main force behind the conceptual idea of the Museum is sustaining the “floating” Children’s Memorial. In order to anchor this main motif of the interior atrium, the volume that contains Memory and Tolerance is displayed like two open arms embracing the Children’s Memorial. This Memorial has two interrelated intentions: remembering approximately two million children who have been exterminated in genocides, and educating our children to foster future coexistence among all people.
On the interior atrium, the different functions of the building are read as independent volumes. The Museum’s Permanent Exhibits (Memory and Tolerance) are held behind the exposed concrete “L” shaped mass. A wooden box holds the Auditorium, which cantilevers over a ramp that leads towards a sunken Children’s Educational Area. At the same time, its top serves as a base to host the Temporary Exhibition Hall, which attracts visitors through a recessed transparent enclosure.
The journey through Memory and Tolerance begins on the upper level of the Museum. Standing above the suspended Memorial, the visitor overlooks the reality of the free outside world (The Mexican Palace of Fine Arts, The Secretary of Foreign Affairs, The Plaza Juarez Square, The National Notaries Archive, etc…) and is about to be moved from direct sunlight into some of the darkest episodes of mankind. Memory and Tolerance are contained on the top three levels of the Museum (5th, 4th and 3rd). Descending from the upper level, Memory is displayed in exhibition halls in the top two floors. Included in these exhibitions are genocides and crimes against humanity relating to the Holocaust, Armenia, Former Yugoslavia (Srebrenica), Rwanda, Guatemala, Cambodia and Darfur. Transitioning from Memory into Tolerance, the visitor is temporarily taken outside to the Atrium into the olive skinned Children’s Memorial (created in collaboration with the Dutch artist Jan Hendrix) within a naturally lit space, where a cascade of 20,000 “tears” symbolizes the victims—one for each 100 vanished souls.
As one ends the journey, a final window frames the exterior view across the street towards the Benito Juarez Memorial, remembering the great Mexican leader who advocated for freedom. His famous words will never be forgotten: “Among Individuals, as Among Nations, Respect for The Rights of Others Is Peace.”