Puebla, a city better known for it's well-preserved Spanish-colonial architecture than for cutting-edge exhibition spaces, is now home to the first-of-its-kind International Baroque Museum.
The baroque is a style of art and architecture that flourished in the 1600s – a time that coincided with Puebla's importance as a connection point for trade routes in the Spanish empire linking Europe to Asian colonies like the Philippines. The new museum houses works from Brazil, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain and the United States – all from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Its two temporary collections and seven permanent collections attempt to illustrate how the baroque style influenced different countries and disciplines around the world.
The museum seeks to break with traditional conventions in a number of ways, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Unlike most museums, for one, the Baroque Museum owns few of the works in its permanent collection. Rather, it relies on traveling exhibits and works that have been borrowed from private sources.
Designed by Pritzker-winning Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the nearly 200,000-square-foot structure – larger, say, than the Dallas Museum of Art – is a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition space, using computer-driven devices, touch screens and other high-tech gadgetry to engage visitors.
In Mexico, where nearly all museums are government-owned and operated, the private-public funding used to put together the Baroque Museum is positively revolutionary. More than 21 museums and Mexican foundations collaborated with private sources of money to bring the museum to life.
And, possibly the most surprising thing, the museum was built in just two years, instead of the 10 years that a major museum can take to mount – from ideation to construction to installing exhibits – in the U.S. or Western Europe or other countries known for their museums.
The hope for Puebla is that the museum will help boost tourism to a city that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well-preserved baroque architecture.