Design revealed for new downtown museum building

This is the winning design created by architect Daniel Van Der Laat to become the new home for the Museo de Jade. Instituto Nacional de Seguros graphic

The proposed new structure for the Museo del Jade will feature special rooms dedicated to Costa Rican archaeology and a space for the jade, the stone that pre-Columbian residents considered sacred. This new area will serve as a protection of country history, said the minister of culture Thursday during a press conference at the downtown location for the museum.

President Laura Chinchilla joined in the festivities. She was accompanied onstage by the minister, Manuel Obregón, and Guillermo Constenla Umaña, executive director of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros.

The new building will be located on the west side of the Museo Nacional and the Plaza de la Democracia. Now it is in the first floor corner of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros headquarters on Avenida 7.

According to an outline of the new structure, the various display areas will conform to the various regions of the country where distinct cultures evolved. Archaeologist generally consider the culture that inhabited the Caribbean coast and into the Central Valley as a people with contact to what is now South America. The northern Pacific culture was part of the sprawling Mayan and later Aztec empires. Then there was the culture in southwestern Costa Rica that created the enigmatic giant stone balls.

Obregon said he was happy to finally have a space to display the 6,881-piece collection. Because of lack of space in the current location the museum only exhibits 1,355 pieces. There are more than 5,000 pieces locked in storage and hidden to the public. He said this will allow for a better understanding to the country’s native history.

“To invest in the culture is to invest in the people,” said Obregón.

A competition was held among national architects to design the new museum building. The winner will have the work constructed into reality and become a part of national history. Plus the winner receives a check for 15 million colons, approximately $30,000. President Chinchilla referred to the 47 entries as an explosion of creativity. She said making a decision was difficult. The winner is Daniel Van Der Laat.
His building is supposed to resemble a rock divided in half, he said. It will open into the Plaza de la Democracia.

The split in the building will allow a lot of light and illumination because of mass windows he said. The site is just south of Avenida Central in an area that officials hope will become a museum corridor.

The new museum building is paid for by the Instituto Nacional de Seguros. It was a project that began in 2008 and has finally begun to progress said Constela. The cost is estimated at about $7 million.

Former president Óscar Arias Sánchez initiated the project. He was also at the ceremony Thursday morning. According to Constenla, there is no contractor hired yet.

The expected new home for the Museum of Jade is supposed to have construction completed and ready for the public by the end of 2013.

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