Trip Report#6: Another Museum: Central Park ZOO

-Human and Animals

I went to Central Park ZOO on this Sunday with full of the sunshine and perfect weather. For some reason, I’m fascinated about visiting zoo since I was a child. It maybe because the strong curiousness of a child as well. Also, I feel that visiting a zoo is another kind of  communicate with other behavioral creatures, not human being.

In a way, the zoo is a good idea to create a space to sort of allow animals and human beings to be in the same space. Zoo is an artificial mechanism that created by and for human beings. There are different purposes going on based on countries, locations, spices culture, visitors and so on.

The extinction of rare animals and the right of animals become two bigger and bigger challenges for the zoo. I have been two different kinds of zoos before. One kind of zoo is trapping animals in a cage and then show them to people; the other kind of zoo is gathering visitors in an enclose space, such as a car or interspace to protect them but allowing animals walking around wildly. Either way has pros and cons, but either one is not the best solution for make this communication and interaction between human being and animals.

-Nature and Culture

Most of the zoos in the city are kind of a park. Designing a zoo is similar with design an exhibition but more complicated. Questions are considering how to respect animal’ right but showing them in a good way at the same time; how to preserve this spices but  have to take them out of their original habitat; how to instill the concept for all- age visitors about appropriately communicate with animals instead of entertaining them. etc.

 

The interesting part of Central Park Zoo is that it’s right located in the middle of this city inside of the park. All the building around this zoo where I feel a little surreal in a way. The design of this zoo is not new, and I feel I was standing in an another version of AMNH with the alive diorama. Most of the animals are put in dioramas in this zoo. It motivates me to think a lot of the relationship between visitors and the animals. At a moment, I feel bad about the idea of a zoo.

 

Central Park Zoo is very small, so the path of the different zone forms circular tour which is easy to navigate and won’t allow visitors miss anything.There is no interactive installation in the zoo, but some analog road sign to try to build a story related to animals. I found one poetry sign around butterfly area, but I didn’t notice there is any other sign of poetry or even related to it.

 

The visitors are mostly parents and kids. Kids’ age are around 7-10 I guess, at their ages, it may be their first experience to get to know about other creatures and nature. In this sense, it’s pretty important that how to design a zoo as a museum to apply those different purposes: education, preservation, contribution for the urban landscape, exhibition and science. Zoo is the only kind of museum for dealing with their collection as lives, creatures and confront the nature directly.

Some zoo design:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1181594/zoo-design-polar-bear-could-love

http://www.dezeen.com/2008/06/11/elephant-house-at-copenhagen-zoo-by-foster-partners/

http://designforlife.com.sg/thesis/24exhibitry.html

http://www.pjarchitects.com/zoo-design-really-new-direction/