Xinatli: A Museum in the Mexican Jungle

By Sybaris Collection

Do we need another museum in Mexico? Is it necessary to built a museum in the middle of the jungle? Even better, how a huge structure would contribute to the nature and to local communities? Fundación Raíz, Studio Viktor Sørless  and Estudio Juiñi has recently revealed the plans for a new musuem in the middle of south Mexican jungle.

Together with Estudio Juiñi and comissioned by non-profit organisation Fundación Raíz, Norwegian architect Viktor Sørless designed the plans for Xinatli, a new museum in South Mexico which will be focused on the research of different disciplines, including art and science, to explore the “possibilities of harmonious coexistence in the 21st Century”.

According with Xinatli’s official page, both the design and the conceptual idea of the museum is based on the contribution to an urgen climate change throug art and an aesthetic perception: “an ecologically oriented way of building, and a cultural engagement with the other to help preserve the permanence of all life on our planet”.

A 90-hectare area of cleared forest was chosen as the location for the research museum. The land around has pass trough illegal logging problems and part of the museum’ objective is to reforest it over the coming years. But how a musuem instead of trees could do that?

The main building is planning to be a pyramid as an archetypal componen of Mesoamerican culture. The design took also the ideas of Mexican writter Octavio Paz in The Labyrinth of Solitude about the pyramid. Sørless has said that the pyramid is a “symbol of a class society, the split between the rich at the top and the poor at the bottom. Our design deconstructs this hierarchy.”

The name of Xinatli has taken from the Nahuatl term Xinachtli, which describes the moment in which a seed germinates, growing into life-givign form. Curiosly, Nahua language is not used by local communities in this area and has no relationship with their cosmology and culture. Why to use “indigenous” term which is not related with the context?

About the museum, Fernanda Raíz, founder of Xinatli, has said that “Untirl now, museums have usually been a space where power is put on display. A 21st century museum should not be a showcase for power fut instead a place that advocates for greater equity: in ecology, in art and in society”. The concept of museum has change over the centuries and it is clear that now its ideologies are far from the idea of the 18th century museum. However, in the context of Xinatli museum it is necesary to question why a space who has been historically related with colonialism would be the best option to take art and science to local communities?