The Song to Narrate Ones Achievements
This museum seeks to celebrate the Maasai culture by immersing the visitors in the world of the Maasai while bringing the community together for a shared learning experience.
Museums are not only a place to go and look at things from the past and from different cultures, they are also a place to bring together those with shared interest and a shared hunger for knowledge. Savannah is well known for its history and people come from all over the world to experience that history and live in it for a time. This inspired my design for the Maasai people museum. I want each and every visitor to feel as though they have been transported into the world of the Maasai for a time. This will be achieved through sensory stimulation and forced circulation.
The circulation will flow through exhibits into a semi-outdoor space and back into the museum, slowly ascending upwards following the slope of the site. At the “end” of the internal circulation there will be two exits to a larger outdoor amphitheater for shows or simply outdoor relaxing. This is inspired by Maasai migration patterns, the larger group will send out a small clan with a portion of cattle to settle farther out and expand the territory. The architecture will emphasize this togetherness then separation in the circulation.
The design is also inspired by the music and dance of the Maasai people. The exhibits themselves will include an element of oral tradition important to the Maasai people. They pass down their history, traditions, stories and way of life through oral tradition and the museum should endeavor to do the same. Each exhibit will have an audio recording to explain the cultural significance of the artifact or ceremony. The design resembles a sound wave in plan view. This allows for the museum to interact with the site by following the wave upwards according to the slope. This hierarchy is also demonstrated in elevation with each wave getting progressively taller towards the back.
Many traditional Maasai practices require layering techniques, this can be seen in both fashion and architecture. Maasai layer necklaces to denote village rank and age. In architecture the Maasai layer sticks, branches, mud and cow dung over and over to create the structure. Taking inspiration from this, the overall form of the structure is layered curvilinear planes leaving space for outdoor exhibition in between each layer. The exterior mimics the plaid pattern found in their fashion. In order to connect the museum back to its site, some layers will be made of classic Savannah brick, incorporating the history of the Maasai with an iconic Savannah motif. All who enter will feel the spirit of the Maasai and the beauty of their culture while they are in the museum and leave with a greater appreciation for their history and an understanding of their strength and beauty.