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International Museum of the Baroque
International Museum of the Baroque
Paula Baldo

PUEBLA — Mexico's recently opened International Museum of the Baroque, in this historic colonial city, is as much a work of art as the numerous 17th- and 18th-century pieces it contains.

Designed for Puebla by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the structure — with its 53 white walls, all a little different from each other, and many appearing to fold as they support the edifice — doesn't just house Baroque artwork; it seeks to "be" Baroque.

The rooms are open-ended, creating a continuous space that prompts visitors to flow from one display room to another. The natural light that bathes the premises echoes the Baroque period's use of light on statues or spaces to evoke Divine presence.

The building has two floors and does not exceed 20 meters in height. The ground floor contains the collection on display. The first floor is kept for workshops, activities and administration.

A yawning entry hall with its curved staircase provides a display space for benches designed by the Kazuko Fujie workshop and made in part by Puebla textile craftspeople. From there visitors are led to a large interior courtyard, with a shallow pool of swirling, shimmering water that represents, like the museum, the restlessness and exuberance of Baroque's tumultuous age.

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