A Jalisco environmental science museum at Expo 2020 Dubai

It was quite a surprise! The Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Martha Delgado, invited the University of Guadalajara to participate in the 2020 Universal Exposition in Dubai. They honored me with the first keynote lecture of the Mexico Pavilion, which I entitled: “A novel Mexican museum of natural history to face the urban anthropocene.” There were many lucky coincidences of Expo 2020 with our Museum of Environmental Sciences. Not only was climate change discussed in Glasgow (COP26), but the museum’s narrative fully coincided with the Expo’s goals: “Connecting minds, creating the future”. The mission of our museum under construction is “to understand the city and inspire the conservation of the nature that sustains it.” With the slogans “confluences” and “of the living and the future”, he interactively explores the interrelationships between urban, rural and wild landscapes. Through contact with natural elements and phenomena, it contributes to reducing the “nature deficit” suffered by urban children and adolescents. Coincidentally, the three thematic pavilions of the Expo – Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity – analyze, through exhibitions and with the most advanced museum techniques, the environmental problems of humanity and its alternatives. Great was our surprise when we discovered the coincidence that the exhibits of two pavilions were designed by two of our collaborators: Alex McCuaig and Tom Hennes, and that, in the third, the Urban and Rural Development Week was celebrated co-organized by another museum advisor. , Eduardo López Moreno, from Jalisco, director of research and capacity development at UN-HABITAT. Another coincidence was that the Mexico Pavilion, directed by Bernardo Noval, was organized around the flora of the country, since we are one of the top five places in the world in plant diversity and in the production of ornamental flowers; and around the monarch butterfly. This species shows a wonderful migratory behavior that links many countries. The migration of butterflies, birds and mammals disappears due to environmental degradation, but paradoxically increases for humans due to forced displacements caused by climate change. The narrative of nature permeates, inside and out, the pavilion: inside, Mystika by Pepe Soho immerses you in a beautiful and emotional world of mirrors that create images to infinity, combining photography, animation, cinematography and sound. Outside, you are greeted by an impressive hand-embroidered raffia façade, in a floral installation entitled Tejedoras de lazos. Betsabeé Romero organized women artisans, coincidentally from Etzatlán, Jalisco, to make it. It reminded me of our installation in the museum, directed by the artist Claudia Rodríguez with the weavers of El Salto de Juanacatlán and that we will present in 2022 at the LAArtShow, California. It consists of a white raffia fabric that represents the toxic foam, which affects your community, due to the contamination of the Santiago River. Mexico shared with the world Lila Downs, the Amalia Hernández Folkloric Ballet, the Sonora Santanera, the dance of Elisa Carrillo, the concert of the tenor Benito Rodríguez and the pianist Ángel Rodríguez at the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi; the arrival of the Cuauhtémoc School Ship and the days of Yucatán, Estado de México, Oaxaca and Hidalgo. We coincide with María Sada’s Biophilia exhibition and with the meeting of the Jalisco Tequila Regulatory Council. These were some surprises. Our presence allowed us to publicize the museum’s projects that, with the budget cuts in Jalisco, has already generated expressions of support from members of the IPCC who received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Tyler and Cosmos Prizes, directors of the IUCN and the MAB-UNESCO program, two MacArthur “genius” scholarships, English literature awards such as the National Book Awards, John Burroughs, PerkinsMarsh and Pulitzer finalist; and in Spanish, like several of Bellas Artes, Xavier Villaurrutia and Sor Juana Inés. The Expo allowed us to strengthen our international positioning as an innovative museum and educational project. Thanks!

MASTERLY. Conference “A novel Mexican museum of natural history to face the urban anthropocene” at the Mexico Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Photo: Luis Carrillo.

By Eduardo Santana Castellón


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A Jalisco environmental science museum at Expo 2020 Dubai