The immersive exhibition includes interactive games highlighting the biodiversity of the Amazon rain forest
Visitors to the Museum of Tomorrow in Brazil can experience the largest tropical biome in the world with the Rio de Janeiro museum’s latest temporary exhibition Fruturos – Tempos Amazônicos (Fruits – Amazon Times).
The exhibition is split into seven areas, presenting the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest in its extensive splendour and the current knowledge of its benefits and vulnerability.
The exhibition proposes new discoveries in the relationship between the forest and the climate but also calls attention to the urgent need for its conservation.
The Amazon rain forest covers several countries and is both naturally and socially diverse
For the past five years the curatorial team have been visiting areas of the forest and have found that the development model in the last 50 years has not generated wealth, has deforested more than 20% of the area and has not benefitted the people who have interacted with the forest for millennia.
“The exhibition brings an updated perspective on the Amazon biome, which is gigantic, covers several countries and, in addition to having enormous biodiversity, is also socially diverse,” said Leonardo Menezes, Director of Knowledge and Creation of the Museum of Tomorrow and Curator of the exhibition.
“We intend to show the current challenges of the Amazon, the different scenarios that are configured from the current socioeconomic development model and the proposal of a new model that is based on science, traditional knowledge and commitment to the standing forest.”
Menezes says the exhibition is an immersive experience that will instil the values of the forest to humankind and nature. It begins with a scenario of silhouettes of trees affected by floods. On the ceiling, an anaconda and a pirarucu can be seen, while the sounds of aquatic beings envelop the visitor in the Amazonian environment.
The coccoloba leaf is one of the largest in the world
Then visitors’ attention will be pointed to a real coccoloba leaf, a regional tree, measuring about 1.6m, one of the largest leaves in the world.
Next, they will encounter various objects used by indigenous peoples with labels indicating the number of languages spoken in the Amazon.
“What guided the scientific support work for the exhibition in the first place was the fascinating universe of the Amazon, which is one of the richest ecosystems on the planet and, at the same time, one of the most threatened,” said scientist Paulo Artaxo, the exhibition’s chief consultant.
Bringing themes of the biome to a wider audience
“There is the importance of bringing the themes of the biome to a wider audience in a beautiful, playful and simplified way for anyone to understand. All these aspects are relevant and strategic for the entire Brazilian society.”
The exhibition has a series of interactive experiences, and the visitor will be able to hear indigenous instruments as they approach each one, including a drum and a flute. In another interactive scheme, sitting around the characterisation of a kapok tree, considered one of the largest trees in the Amazon, the visitor will see how the communities that inhabit the forest, such as farmers, developers and riverside dwellers live.
Preservation of the biome
The journey continues through a winding balcony that refers to a river with three tributaries. Each one of them represents a factor that puts the preservation of the biome at risk. A video projected on the site shows the expansion of pastures and the construction of major infrastructure works.
The exhibition also reserves a festive atmosphere that portrays the local culture in different aspects. There, the visitor will get to experience the music and dances of the region, the cuisine, the literary production and the clothes used on special festive occasions, such as that of the Ashaninka people and one of the marabas performances.
Toward the end of the exhibition a projection of videos brings testimonies of the inhabitants of the region and their perspectives of the future.
Here there is another interactive element through a game that reveals the association of bioeconomy’s potential with traditional and scientific knowledge. Visitors will also be introduced to a structure that refers to the Torre Atto, which measures 325 meters and is used for monitoring meteorological, chemical and biological data.
The exhibition ends with a virtual reality experience in a small maloca (ancestral long house) where visitors can participate in a game in which they need to collect a series of products in the forest by becoming an avatar of an indigenous person.
Fruturos – Tempos Amazônicos runs until 12 June
About the author – Adrian Murphy
Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.