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Most of us have pondered the idea of immortality and the afterlife, but few have thought about what it would look like as a physical structure. Thanks two architects and Mexico’s Museo Tamayo, now we have an idea. The Museum of Immortality debuted in October as part of Design Week Mexico to explore the concept of death through architecture. Created by German architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller, the function of the pavilion is to represent a physical space that gives humans the same archival immortality museums give to art (Wallpaper described it as “a hybrid of minaret, mausoleum and modern-day space capsule.” The steel and Plexiglas structure, which stands just over 26 feet, is made of a winding series of empty cubes (representing both coffins and museum display cases). The design duo said, “We are thrilled to show a prototype for the Museum of Immortality in Mexico City. Its deep fascination with death cults make Mexico a very special context for such a speculative project….We ask: Can we design after-life? Can – as the context of the Museo Tamayo suggests – humans be preserved like museal artifacts?”


The Museum of Immortality was inspired by art critic and theorist Boris Groys, who conceived of an earlier design of the museum based on his ideas about the relationship between museums as a sort of crypt of human material progress, and our own corporeal destiny: our artifacts frozen in time while we decay. In 2013, he wrote: “Public art museums and big private art collections were created to select certain objects—the artworks—take them out of private and public use, and therefore immunize them against the destructive force of time. Thus, our art museums became huge garbage cans of history in which things were kept and exhibited that had no use anymore in real life: sacral images of past religions or status objects of past lifestyles….However, is it possible for a human being to enter the flow, to get access to its totality? On a certain very banal level the answer is, of course, yes: human bodies are things among other things in the world and, thus, subjected to the same universal flow. They become ill, they age, and they die….Thus, there is a tension between our material, physical, corporeal mode of existence—which is temporary and subjected to time—and our inscription into cultural archives that are, even if they are also material, much more stable than our own bodies.”

The installation will be on view until spring 2017 at Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.

Images via Alberto Jurtega / Design Week Mexico.

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