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Toyo Ito Designs Sleek, Swooping Museum in Mexico

The Museo Internacional del Barroco recently opened its doors in Puebla, Mexico

The Museo Internacional del Barroco, designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito and winner of the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize, recently opened its doors in the city of Puebla, the fourth-largest in Mexico. The museum, also known as MIB, is dedicated to Baroque art of the 17th century, which originated in Italy and subsequently found its way to the rest of Europe and, eventually, Latin America.

In contrast to the bold ornamentation and elaborate details for which the period is known, MIB is a fluid, swooping structure made of white precast-concrete slabs that, despite their formal simplicity, recall the drama and emotion of the movement.

In designing the museum, Ito and his studio hoped to emphasize the relationship between humans and nature, which shows in how the structure incorporates water: Its central courtyard features a fountain shaped like a giant, cracked egg, and a pond snakes along one side of the museum, establishing a connection to a nearby park. Outside, the plaza, which hosts projections on the museum's facade at night, features curvilinear benches with Swiss cheese-like cutaways.

Inside the two-story, light-filled museum, organic shapes also dot the space, including skylights with irregular circles, and a curving staircase that occupies the main atrium, which features large undulating upholstered benches designed by Kazuko Fujie Atelier.

Additional amenities include a 300-seat auditorium, terraces that overlook the park, eight permanent exhibition halls, and a cluster of three rooms for temporary exhibitions that can be used separately or combined into a single larger space.