2002 Mexico City, Mexico

The 2002 meeting of ICAMT took place in Mexico City, 28-31 October. The focus of this meeting was museum architecture and design of alternative spaces. The National University, School of Architecture, organized the meeting and architecture students attended many of the sessions.

On Monday the conference began at the Faculty of Architecture in University City with registration and a very interesting tour of University City, focusing on the variety of architecture and landscapes that have been developed over time. One of the highlights was observing the very creative altars being created by the students on the grassy mall for All Saints Day.

Tuesday the meeting began in the Enrique del Moral Auditorium of the Faculty of Architecture with a keynote address by Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon on museums for the third millennium. The address generated a very interesting discussion by both the
architecture students and ICAMT members. The group traveled to the National Museum of Anthropology for lunch. After lunch, Jose Enrique Ortiz Lanz, National Coordinator of Museums, gave the group an overview of the history of this National Museum. The museum was built in the 1960s, the first building built exclusively as a museum in Mexico.
Its exhibits are divided into the various regions of Mexico. The building is now being renovated and the exhibits updated. Jose Enrique took the group on a tour of the building, including areas not open to the public where exhibits were being remodeled and updated. The group was able to ask questions about construction and offer suggestions on exhibit techniques relating to lighting and display.

The next day’s meeting was held at the National Museum of Art with the theme “Museum Planning and Museum Architecture”. The building was built in the 19th century and once housed the Department of Communications. It was later redesigned and adapted as an art museum, containing an overview of Mexican art. Alfonso Govela was the planner who developed the master plan and implemented this conversion. He gave the first presentation and described this conversion process, the challenges, eventual solutions and the contradictions between museums and architecture. The next two speakers talked about different approaches to museum spaces.

Claudia Barron’s topic was new approaches to the use of exhibition space, specifically developing hyper-textural spaces. Taide Buenfil talked about accessibility in public spaces, describing the National Commission created by Mexico’s President Fox and the booklet of information on various disabilities and specifications created to move toward the universal use of space by everyone. Jorge Agostoni was the next speaker and his topic was “Exhibition Design: an open field for architects”. He discussed the amount of intervention needed to convert an historic building into exhibit space and described what had been done at Mexico’s National Museum of Art. Elizabeth Louden, Professor of Architecture, Texas Tech University, USA gave a paper on the digital documentation of the Statue of Liberty to create accurate three-dimensional drawings and models. The last speaker was Carlos Flores Marini, President of ICOMOS in Mexico. He presented an overview of ICOMOS and its programs, highlighting various ICOMOS preservation projects in the Caribbean. After a lunch that included traditional dishes such as baked ants, the group returned to the museum for a tour of the art exhibits. The next stop was a quick visit to the National Museum of Architecture to see the murals by Siqueiros.

Thursday the meeting began in the Centro Cultural de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in University City with the theme, “Design of alternative exhibition spaces”. Julieta Fierro, director of the university’s Science Diffusion Division, talked about the role of the designer in alternative exhibition spaces such as science museums. Several ICAMT members presented papers relating to the day’s theme. Milagros Mueller, Architect, University of Venezuela, presented a very thought-provoking paper, “The Dislocation of Contemporary Art”, which is published in this issue of brief. Sophia Xenopoulou, Greece, talked about creating a Museum of Fishery in an old building. Ronnie Fookes, Project Manager, Public Spaces in the Victoria Museum in Melbourne, Australia spoke about the challenges of creating a museum in an existing building. The group was given a complete tour of the science museum and then went for another traditional lunch. The day ended with the Fiesta Mexicana at the National Museum of Cultures, including a live band playing traditional music from the various regions of Mexico and some traditional dancing by members of the group.

The next day, several ICAMT members organized a tour outside of Mexico City to see some of the ancient monuments in the area, experiencing yet another type of architecture now used as public space.

The ICAMT group in Mexico City thanks the various institutions that organized and sponsored this meeting, particularly the Faculty of Architecture of the National University. The architecture students who attended many of the sessions were delightful and added to the discussions each day. Yani Herriman created an interesting and fruitful program that resulted in a well-balanced meeting of presentations and museum tours. Our thanks to her and all of her colleagues in Mexico for a memorable conference.