The renowned paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey is developing a museum dedicated to the history of human evolution on the banks of Lake Turkana in the Kenyan desert.
Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind is developing the project design for Leakey, and told CLADglobal
the museum will “present our entire history through a spatial experience and the exhibits inside.”
Leakey is best known for discovering Turkana Boy, the most complete skeleton of an early human ever uncovered.
He told the Independent
newspaper that while the museum will display some important fossils, he wants it to offer, “the physical location of the actual bones is becoming increasingly irrelevant.”
He said: “Why don't we have a room you come in to wearing a 3D headset and sit quietly in the middle of a band of Homo erectus moving all around you? That's much more interesting than a skeleton of Turkana Boy behind glass.”
Early design sketches for the museum show a cluster of organically-shaped structures organised around a central hall climbing high into the sky.
“Turkana is unlike any place in the world," Libeksind told CLADglobal
. “The design came about through Richard’s vision of this site as the cradle, the origin, of us. It's not just another cultural institution. It’s a physical manifestation of Africa, in its footprint [which follows the outline of the continent].
“There will be a chamber of humanity, a planetarium, a dinosaur hall. It’s about time, but it's also about space. We will capture spatial moments of revelation as people pass through the building, like they’re undertaking a pilgrimage. We’re dealing with memory – the memory of humanity.”
The architect added that the composition and materiality of the structure would “connect with the sense of warmth that is already there” in the landscape and in the sky. He will adopt traditional Kenyan construction methods and materials “to use local genius to create a space worthy of the theme.”
He said his hope is that the museum will become a landmark for Turkana Lake as the community continues to develop and grow in population – drawing visitors from the local area and further afield.
“Its one of the most important and exciting projects I've worked on,” he said. “How many people have the chance to work on a landmark for the future with a genius like Richard Leakey and a team of the world’s top scientists and to tell this incredible story.”
Libeksind is known for designing cultural institutions including the Jewish Museum Berlin and The Imperial War Museum North in Manchester. He is currently developing the Kurdistan Museum in Erbil.