Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Revitalization planned for unique stained glass mural and botanical garden

The second most popular tourist attraction in México state after the ancient city of Teotihuacán is seeking to boost visitor numbers by tapping into a segment of the market that is notoriously tricky to crack: millennials.

The Cosmovitral Botanical Garden in the historic center of Toluca features an elaborate stained-glass mural by deceased México state artist Leopoldo Flores that tells the story of man and his relationship with the universe. It is also home to 400 different species of plants.

More than 360,000 visitors have enjoyed the enclosed garden this year, including foreigners from countries such as Japan, Israel and Spain, but director Alejandra Abraham Jarquín would like to see more young people coming through the doors.

“. . . Generations like the famous millennials and other young people don’t know [the garden]. For that reason, I think that the time has come to freshen up its image in order to attract people aged 30 and below . . . It will be a little complicated but not impossible,” she said.

Abraham said that public interest in the Cosmovitral has waned since 2015, the year after former United States president Barack Obama, ex-prime minister of Canada Stephen Harper and former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto visited during a leaders’ summit in the México state capital.

It is the state’s second most popular attraction.

To stimulate new interest, the way in which the botanical garden/museum is marketed will be given a makeover, the director told the newspaper El Universal without offering further details.

Abraham also said that Cosmovitral management have asked the Toluca government for help to clean up the area that surrounds the garden.

The presence of street vendors has made it difficult to get into the attraction and more and more rubbish is accumulating in nearby fountains, which are also used as public bathrooms by people who come to Toluca’s downtown to participate in protests, she said.

“What we’re seeking to do is position the museum among the main sights for national and international tourists . . .” Abraham explained.

Anyone who visits the Cosmovitral can expect a memorable experience. Flores’ mural – which extends around the perimeter of the 3,500-square-meter structure and across its ceiling – is made up of 45 tonnes of stained glass divided into 500,000 separate fragments.

Among the themes explored in the work are the dualities of day and night, man and woman and good and evil.

Abraham said that 28 different colors of glass were used in the mural, 80% of which are shades that were developed abroad. If a section of glass breaks or is damaged, dyes often have to be imported to replace it, she explained.

The Cosmovitral opened in 1990 but construction of the art nouveau building began in 1909 as part of a range of projects to commemorate the centenary of Mexico’s independence from Spain.

It was inaugurated in 1933 and functioned as a market for 40 years before undergoing an extensive renovation in order to be converted into an indoor botanical garden and museum.

The building was renovated again in 2015 with a 31-million-peso (US $1.6 million at today’s exchange rate) investment.

New plant species were introduced and an additional Japanese-inspired space featuring a pond filled with koi was added.

The Cosmovitral is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00am to 6:00pm. Entry is just 10 pesos for adults and 5 pesos for children.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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