For the past five decades, conflict in Colombia between its government, paramilitaries, and FARC rebels hiding out in the jungle have resulted in the deaths of an estimated 220,000 Colombians. Though it hardly makes the nightly news anymore, the fighting continues. Just this April, the government resumed its bombing campaign against the guerrillas.
Throughout this time, Colombians have not had a public place to collectively grieve, but that will soon change. The National Center for Historical Memory has announced an international competition to design a National Museum of Memory to commemorate the victims of the fighting. “This has been a war of degradation in which the violence exhibited has predominantly been directed at the civil population,” the organizers explain.
The museum will occupy a prominent place in Bogotá. Standing on the Plaza de la Democracia at the convergence of three major avenues — El Dorado, North-Quito Sur, and the Americas — it is predicted to become one of the city’s most important landmarks.
“[The museum] will be a place of mourning, reflection and deliberation, a place of files, information and consultation, a space for research and pedagogical reflection,” a press release states. It will welcome multiple and diverse narratives about the war, with exhibitions that seek to recognize and dignify all the victims, critically analyze the violence and attendant human rights violations, and promote a culture of peace, respect, and plurality.
Architects can register for the competition until June 19 and submit entries until July 29. On August 13, the government will announce three winners selected by five Colombian architects: Willy Drews, Clemencia Escallón, Mauricio Pinilla, Beatriz Garcia, and Ephraim Riano. Project advisor Viviescas José Fernando Monsalve has said the favored design will “expose symbolically — in a landmark — the absurdity … of the elimination of the other in the dispute.”