Watch Day at Horno 3 in Fundidora Park
The iron factory Aceros de Monterrey turned off its furnaces in 1986 after more than eight decades of activity during which thousands of workers operated non-stop the furnaces and other industrial equipment that now remain as the main attraction of the Fundidora Park in the center of Monterrey, Mexico. This industrial archaeology park features many structures and heavy machinery, but none is as impressive as the Horno 3, the last of the blast furnaces, built at the site in 1968. The original factory had en area of 114 hectares, and contained worker housing, a school, a hospital, several industrial buildings, and three enormous blast furnaces, or hornos, of which only Horno 1 and 3 remain and are listed as National Artistic Monuments.
Thanks to the efforts of a private-public consortium, the industrial site was cleaned and opened as a public park in 2001, and subsequently five of the structures were converted into cultural centers. In 2007 the Horno 3 structure opened as a science and technology museum after two years of work that combined conservation of as much of the original fabric as possible and a sensitive introduction of new materials. The architecture is spectacular, the exhibits are state of the art, and the museum is well attended and a popular venue for events. However, after seven years of operation, the exposed iron structure is starting to show decay and the resources generated by the non- profit organization that manages the site and its many educational programs are not sufficient to cover the expense of a comprehensive conservation treatment. It is for this reason that Horno 3 was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch.
Horno 3 has conservation needs, but it is also a model of best practices for the preservation and interpretation of industrial sites. Its public education programs, which focus on science, heritage, and climate change, are already showing tangible results as indicated by the dramatic increase in the percentages of Horno 3 students that stay in school, go to university, and choose science as a career of choice—the main goal of the museum.
On August 10, 2014, Horno 3 celebrated its seventh anniversary with a World Monuments Watch Day public program, which included free access to the museum, guided tours, science demonstrations, drawings exhibitions, typical dances, and refreshments for nearly 3,000 visitors. At the closing of the program, a grant from American Express through WMF was publicly announced, as was the launch of a public campaign to raise additional funds to support the much-needed conservation work.
Fundidora Park, and in particular its blast furnace Horno 3, deserve to be preserved as a reminder of the industrial roots of Monterrey, and as a first-rate cultural and educational facility, of which all the citizens of Monterrey can identify with and be proud of.