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With new museum, Merida will be the City of Light

La Plancha project appears to move forward as details on its science museum are announced

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Merida, Yucatan — The governor and other officials broke a long period of silence on the subject and discussed the Museum of Light in a press conference on Friday.

The complex will be a spinoff of the original Museo de la Luz, which has operated 22 years in Mexico City. It will not be moved from Mexico City to Merida, as was previously reported.

With a focus on science, the “experiential” museum will feature modern technological equipment which today exists only in research laboratories, said its director, José Ramón Hernández Balanzar.

While not discussing a timeline, Yucatan Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal said the new museum is the first step in transforming abandoned railway yards into the Gran Parque La Plancha.

“… little by little we are going to be turning (La Plancha) into a space of familiar coexistence, of knowledge and education,” said Vila Dosal.

Enrique Gráue Wiechers, rector of the UNAM — which runs the museum — met privately with the governor and subsequently headed a press conference in the Hall of History.

The visit to Yucatan helped the UNAM to consolidate its strategic alliance with projects at the National School of Higher Studies (ENES), the Museum of Light and the Research Unit of the Chicxulub Crater.

A contest to build the 4,500-square-meter/48,000-square-foot museum was won by the architecture students at the Universidad Anáhuac Mayab in Merida.

The original light museum, in the San Ildefonso School in Mexico City, reportedly welcomed about 120,000 visitors in 2018.

He emphasized that UNAM — the Mexico City-based National Autonomous University of Mexico — does not wish to compete with local universities, but rather cooperate with them.

“We want to build knowledge with the community, with the neighbors of La Plancha, with scientists, with business people,” said Gráue Wiechers.

The museum, displacing a baseball diamond on Calle 50 and 43, is designed as an experimental laboratory of science and art, with exhibitions and new equipment that studies disparate topics such as pollution and eye health. Another produces a holographic pyramid.

The complex is across Calle 43 from the bulk of La Plancha land. The railroad museum is to its east and UNAM’s Peninsular Center for Humanities and Social Sciences is further down the street.

The governor reported that 100 million pesos are invested in this museum and its permanent and temporary exhibitions.

The Mexico City museum explores the basic principles of light with exhibits that demonstrate its physics. One exhibit studies stars while others focus on the “World of Color,” the use of light in artwork, its importance in biology and in vision.

The La Plancha master plan envisions a Central Park setting spreading across several city blocks.

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