By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With less than one month before the start of one of the most anticipated international events in the world, last week, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes and other officials opened another one of the many legacy projects initiated for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Olympic City Museum in Zona Norte (North Zone).
The new hi-tech digital space includes numerous interactive experiences allowing guests the chance to visit Rio de Janeiro and all the Olympic venues virtually or even live out their Olympic dreams running the hundred-meter dash against a digitally inspired Usain Bolt.
At the opening ceremony, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, accompanied by the Minister of Sports, Leonardo Picciani, and Minister of Justice, Alexandre de Moraes, spoke about the importance of the new museum and the Nave do Conhecimento (Vessel of Knowledge) program.
“This equipment is a kind of public internet space that the city has invested in, mainly in the less favored areas of the city and suburbs,” Mayor Paes told the press. “It will offer the same activities of other Naves, such as Internet access and courses, but with a twist that it is also the Olympic City Museum, which features a large collection devoted to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The Olympic City Museum, located in the Engenho de Dentro neighborhood in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone), occupies a fully restored warehouse that was once a workshop for repairing railway trains. It is adjacent to the newly renovated Olympic Stadium in Engenho de Dentro. The stadium, built for the 2007 Pan American Games, will be used for the track and field events of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.
The new museum is a part of the city’s Nave do Conhecimento program, whose goal is to establish spaces in traditionally neglected communities and bring technology and science to the area through courses, events, and workshops. The Nave program has previously opened digital learning environments in the city’s traditionally underserved neighborhoods of Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) and Zona Norte, such as Padre Miguel, Irajá, Madureira, Penha, Santa Cruz and Vila Aliança.
Making use of the latest digital technologies and multimedia, the museum offers guests numerous virtual reality and interactive attractions, such as a simulated hang-gliding aerial tour of Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic venues.
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights for any visitor will be the various sports competition simulators, allowing guests to compete in Paralympic cycling, rowing and even the hundred-yard dash against a virtual athlete based on Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt.
The space also features more traditional displays of Olympic memorabilia and presentations detailing how the Olympics and digital innovations have combined to change the city and sports in general, as well as telling the history of Brazil at the Olympics, Paralympics, and Winter Olympics.
At the opening ceremony, Carlos Nuzman, President of the Rio 2016 organizing committee, said, “Today is a very special day. We are very happy to arrive at the stage we are at with the support we have.”
“The Games could begin today, all of the competition areas are ready,” Nuzman proclaimed proudly. “It will be an unbelievable party that everyone will love. The Games are in Rio, but they belong to the people of Brazil.”
The Olympic City Museum is free of charge and is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9AM to 9PM, and on Sundays from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.