MIDE, Museo Interactivo de Economía, or the Interactive Museum of Economics has its roots going a long way back. The building has withstood numerous changes in history. The building first served as a Bethlehemite convent and hospital. After the suppression in the nineteenth century, it was converted to a military headquarters and a school of medicine which was ultimately turned into partly a hotel and the rest into an apartment. The building was treated so badly after the Bethlehemites were suppressed that the entire place was turned into ruin and debris by the 1950s. Fortunately, the Mexicans couldn’t let such an invaluable legacy die. In 1989, the Banco de Mexico bought the building and undertook a long and complex restoration project that lasted 15 years. The whole process was supervised by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

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Just three decades back, none of this current splendor was observed. Layers of paint and plaster hid the beautiful light-colored granite and red tezontle stone. The current museum has a photographic record of its own restoration displayed through pictures and audiovisual recordings in the archway. 

This is the world’s first interactive museum solely dedicated to economics. It’s open to all but focuses specifically on students and teachers and gives incentives like special discounts to increase their interest. Unlike normal museums with static exhibitions, MIDE manages to give you a gist of what economics is by starting to explain the smallest concept to gradually dealing with complex topics with the help of technology and design solutions. It is an exciting journey where your curiosity is tugged at by interesting fun activities and games, and just like that after an hour or two, you have subconsciously grasped many concepts of economics. 

The museum is located in a prime area of the historic center of Mexico and hence attracts a lot of local crowds apart from the tourists. There are four levels: ground floor with a beautiful patio, a mezzanine, second, and third floor. There is a total of 3700m2. The building material is red tezontle stone and light-colored granite. The ground floor has a beautiful patio that has a mechanical awning that is used as a projection screen to play the documentary describing the building’s history. 

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This museum is carefully designed assuming the visitor has minimal knowledge about economics. Hence, the ground floor starts with a look at the general history, growth stories, and a quick analysis of Mexico’s present economy. The first floor focuses on finance in the society explaining what the government spends on, few standard definitions, and explains the Mexican financial system in detail. The second floor covers the basic principles of the economy and the third floor covers sustainable development, economy society, and nature.

There is a finance lab that is digitally empowered to make learning fun and interactive. There are documentaries projected and short videos on topics like climate change forum or the future of the economy. There are surveys the visitors are asked to fill regarding their economic concerns. So overall, through a series of videos, games, and illustrated cartoons that help break down complex topics into understandable chunks of information, a visitor assimilates a good idea of economics with topics like inflation, monetary policy, and the national consumer price index being covered. The part of the museum that deals with stock markets, banks, and insurance companies, lets visitors choose topics from a large screen and the actual directors of the museum appear on the screen explaining their work and the things they deal with every day in an understandable and easy manner. 

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The intimate open gardens and corridors with beautiful semi-circular arches just add on to the existing carefully planned design. The circulation is planned such that a vast and broad topic is chopped down into small swallowable chunks and the visitors are being fed a chunk each on their way. 

The plan and design of the museum have won numerous awards. It has won the Miguel Covarrubias Prize, given by the INAH, the Gold Museum Award 2007, given by the American Association of Museums, the Roy L. Shafer Leading EdgeAward, given by the Association of Science-Technology Centers and the prize from the International Council of Museums for interactive station development.

Interactive museums are one step ahead of the normal museums and exhibitions and help us succeed in delivering information in the most efficient way by taking out the monotony and humdrum of the usual museums and replacing it with intriguing and exciting elements. This idea of interactive museums with developing technology can also lead us to hope that more such and better museums come to form, one that involves activities that promise fun and excitement and indirectly feed information into the mind.

Author

Salve! Arya is a student at IIT Kharagpur. Her gypsy soul leads her to reading and writing about beautiful structures of art. You might find her weeping to have been born in an era that prefers pens over quills, pop over jazz and shorts over boho skirts.

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