Panama’s Amador Causeway…a naturally beautiful seascape where your eyes will gaze at glistening blue waters, lush green islands, and… a massive, rainbow building?!
That would be the Biomuseo. This Panama City museum, which opened to the public in October of 2014, is anything but typical. Mention of the word “museum” tends to trigger an image of an elegant Roman-columned, white-marbled building, but the Biomuseo more closely resembles an industrial, abstract circus tent. While the eight galleries in this 4,000 square meter space will house thousands of pieces in the years to come, the Biomuseo itself is a true work of art. The roof of the museum is a conglomerate of metal canopies, each unique in its color and shape.One of the world’s most appreciated contemporary architects, Frank Gehry, is the man behind this eccentric design. Widely recognized for designing the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, Spain, Gehry’s whimsical designs challenge traditional building concepts. The Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) recently named Gehry the recipient of the 2016 Annenberg Award for Diplomacy Through the Arts.
“It is a great honor to receive the 2016 Annenberg Award from FAPE, an organization that believes that art and design can foster a deeper appreciation of all cultures. This is a principle that is central to my work as well, so it is wonderful to be to be included in FAPE’s legacy of cultural diplomacy through art. Art and architecture work in concert, and are vital to sparking creativity, enhancing understanding, and creating a dialogue,” said Gehry.
Gehry’s rainbow mishmash design has a lot more depth than it may seem. The building tells the story of how the Isthmus of Panama emerged from the sea, uniting two continents into one land mass, while splitting one vast ocean in two. The colorful roof is a celebration of Panama’s natural beauty, intended to reflect the vivacious biodiversity of the nation while bringing awareness to environmental conservation. The Biomuseo also puts Mother Nature in the spotlight with its outdoor exhibits amongst the 258,334 sq ft. botanical park surrounding the museum.
The only way to truly experience every bend, twist and turn in this one-of-a-kind place is to see it in person. Travel to Panama with your students and explore the Biomuseo on EF’s Preservation in Panama tour!