Inspired by the very glaciers it aims to protect, the Glaciarium is a new museum in southern Argentina's Glacier National Park. Built to sit lightly on the earth and minimize energy use, the recently opened museum will help raise awareness about the beautiful region and serve as a research institute to monitor the ice cap. Visitors of the popular, Patagonian tourist circuit will walk away with a greater respect and understanding of climate change's effect on the magical and massive glaciers.
The new glacier museum is located about 5 km from El Calafate and surrounded by the 4,500 sq kilometers Glaciers National Park. With 47 glaciers, the park holds the largest ice cap outside of Antarctica and Greenland. The goal of the museum is to both inspire and educate visitors of the region about glaciers, their role in the environment and how they will be impacted by climate change. Additionally the institute will serve as an investigation center to monitor the status and evolution of the monoliths in the Patagonia region. Pedro Skcarca, chief of Glaciology at the Argentine Antarctic Institute, will head up the research team led from within the museum.
The Glaciarium was actually inspired by glaciers and the building’s volume resembles the head of a glacier where it breaks apart and crashes into the water. While glaciers are very heavy, the museum was designed to sit lightly on the earth and is constructed out of a metal frame and could easily be disassembled. Minimal sitework was required for the volume, which just sits right on the natural level of the soil. Energy usage was minimized and LED lights were used extensively throughout the main hall, auditorium foyer and exteriors. The museum’s shop is even branded as an “Eco Shop” and features locally made and eco friendly gifts. The owners of the museum also hope to one day incorporate solar and wind energy into the project, but don’t have the funding for it right now.