Frank Gehry’s BioMuseo

Victoria Murillo

The architect designs a building in Panama, his first ever in Latin America.

A man, a plan, a museum, Panama. An imperfect palindrome, perhaps, but a fitting one when describing the latest work of Frank Gehry, master of asymmetry. BioMuseo, scheduled to open this fall just outside Panama City, is particularly significant for Gehry, whose wife, Berta, is Panamanian. The architect has never designed a building in Latin America before, and museum communications coordinator Margot López says it required years to convince him to take on the task: “He resisted because this is his favorite place to vacation, and this would turn it into work.” Gehry set several conditions, the most crucial being that the $60 million project had to be something important to Panama. The expansive, angular structure may be trademark Gehry, but the colorful façade, an allusion to its tropical locale, is a departure from his usual neutral, metallic color palette. The eight galleries inside, created in conjunction with Bruce Mau Design as well as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Panama, tell the story of how the Isthmus of Panama’s emergence three million years ago marked a critical moment—connecting two continents and dividing the Atlantic and the Pacific—that forever changed the planet while setting the stage for today’s global climate. At Bldg. 136, Amador Causeway; 507-314-0097.