2012 - ongoing
Direct Commission

Maya de America

Museum Guatemala City


18'000 M2




2012 - ongoing

realtime animation

The new Museo Maya de América is among the most ambitious cultural projects under development in Central America. Designed by Harry Gugger Studio in collaboration with over,under, it is planned to house one of the world's most significant collections of objects, artefacts, artworks, textiles and knowledge relating to the history and culture of the Mayan Civilisation.

Museo Maya de America (MUMA), Guatemala

Guatemala City is a culturally intricate and historically rich place with a disruptive relationship to its past. Opposing forces are a recurrent theme within its modern urban environment. Whether it is ancient to modern, wealth to poverty, indigenous to foreign, what is revealed, is a city built on contrasts. Under this scope, the new Museo Maya de América (MUMA) is designed to act beyond its strict programmatic purpose as a museum. It aspires to be a catalyst for social activity and to inhabit the site as carrier of civic identity, culture and heritage.

Amongst the most ambitious initiatives under development in Central America, it is planned to bring together Guatemala’s collections of Mayan objects, artefacts, artworks and textiles, host educational programs and accommodate state of the art research facilities; becoming a most influential transmitter of knowledge relating to the history and tradition of the Mayan Civilisation. Located on the northern edge of L’Aurora Park, the new museum building will form the culmination of a cultural axis that includes the Guatemalan Museum of Contemporary Art and the Children’s Museum. Re-enforcing a dense cluster of cultural institutions, the MUMA will become a landmark further supporting social and commercial activities within the open spaces of the adjacent park, so as to provide a common ground of interaction for tourists and residents alike.

The design of the new museum draws its inspiration from the language of traditional Mayan temple architecture in terms of tectonic simplicity and landscape integration. The building is formed by a simple design gesture of two principle constituent elements, a fragmented plinth and floating monolithic box. It presents an abstract, symbolic form to the surrounding city. Additionally, as vehicular traffic does not interrupt the building’s immediate adjacency to the park, it succeeds to achieve complete integration to its surrounding context; a subtle form situated amongst a dense grove of trees.

The ground levels are meant to act as a continuation of the larger surrounding park-area, in terms of views and public access. These levels are organised in as open a manner as possible to link the museum’s entrance, temporary gallery spaces, café’s and sculpture garden to the smaller rooms that support the galleries contained within the larger form of the box above. This way, the museum takes advantage of Guatemala’s temperate climate to provide natural ventilation to the majority of its spaces. As a consequence, its gallery floors are structured as an alternating pattern of ‘rooms’ and ‘plazas’, which combine to form a rich range of different exhibition spaces over the building’s several levels.

The heart of the building is a “Cenote” which extends the sculptural language of the plinth down in to the lower levels and up through the museum box to form the main route of building circulation. The Cenote carves a large opening, at the centre of the museum that extends vertically from the ground toward the sky. It is formed by a compression of the room elements found in the surrounding floor plans and becomes a main orientation point within the museum. As yet another open space, the landscaped roof of the museum is once again given back to the public with a series of different areas including a restaurant and terrace, roof gardens and viewing decks all accessible from the Cenote. The large surface of the roof also harvests rainwater, in a manner recalling traditional Maya practices. The recycled rainwater is then drawn through a series of channels into the Cenote, forming part of a living vertical landscape.

The Museo Maya de América is developed in collaboration with over, under.


Fundación La Ruta Maya