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Museo Aero Solar Intiñan – COP20, Lima, Perú

Maristella Svampa

We can become aerosolar

By Pablo Suarez, Ph.D.
Innovation Lead
Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

On Sunday, December 7, 2014, Museo Aero Solar Intiñán became lighter than air and lifted off the ground, in the context of the annual UN Climate Conference in Lima -COP20. The event included former heads of state, national ministers, and leaders of development organizations from all continents. No need for helium or a burning flame feeding off fossil fuels: Just sunlight and the flame of motivated volunteers.

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Under Tomás’ vision and guidance, a team of local volunteers set to work, including artists, students and Red Cross youth, as well as grandmothers and children from the slums near Parque Wiracocha. They collectively constructed a Museo Aero Solar: a large, lighter-than-air sculpture made of plastic bags that would otherwise be trash, engaging people across generations. Named “Intiñán” (a Quechua word meaning “way of the sun”), the sculpture aimed to harness the sun’s power to make our thinking and action take flight.


While Museo Aero Solar Intiñán was absorbing the sun’s power before it took flight, many participants decided to experience the magic. People in suits and neckties removed their shoes and crawled into this cathedral of light made of simple plastic bags. An artistic vision was uniting Lima’s shanty town dwellers with Nobel-prize-winning scientists, Bangladeshi community organizers, TV crews, European donors and Ugandan disaster managers, all bonding and reigniting their commitment to a better world while looking up to the luminous world of possibilities from inside the incomprehensibly beautiful sculpture.

I imagine what Pablo must have gone through, to get bureaucratic sign-off on this. No metric of success. No Theory of Change. Him, fighting tooth and nail for a large and hugely risk-averse organization to trust, falls into the arms of a community, an artist, a facilitator, and a game maker. And they did. And it changed the entire event. People in suits crawling into this cathedral made of plastic bags, each individually cut and added with love to the whole. A pile of fancy shoes outside the entrance, like a ballroom bouncy castle. People’s unabashed joy watching art some of them had made into a room, and then lift off to become a transport

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Intiñán incarnated what our world needs: We can become aerosolar. We can mobilize the power of humanity, embracing science and art to rekindle our relationship with the world. The beauty, the sheer joy, and the deep inspiration that emerged from embarking on Tomás’ aerosolar ideas were magnificently uplifting. His invitation to an artistic experimental performance was an innovative, seriously fun endeavour that compelled us to re-imagine the world and its possibilities.

Hosted by Development & Climate Days, 2014: Zero poverty, Zero emissions, Within a generation.


Studio Tomás Saraceno

Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

Overseas Development Institute

American Red Cross

Peruvian Red Cross

Pablo Suarez, Carlos Pedreros, Willow Brugh, Helga Elsner Torres, Ramiro Espinoza Wong, Frances Munar Aparicio and many more!