Tatiana Bilbao Builds a Ruin-Like Aquarium, and Other News

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The Sea of Cortez Research Center. Photography by Christian Belmont and Tonatiuh Armenta

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Tatiana Bilbao Builds a Ruin-Like Aquarium

Aquariums may abound with glass, but that doesn’t mean humans can see marine habitats clearly. That thought inspired the Sea of Cortez Research Center, a new aquarium designed by Tatiana Bilbao Estudio on a picturesque estuary in Mazatlán. Envisioned to resemble a future ruin reclaimed by nature, the three-level structure is anchored by a towering rotunda crisscrossed with monumental concrete walls. Giant tanks housing aquatic life neighbor pools and greenery, intended to strengthen ties between visitors and sea life. “I created the story of the ruin for humans to relate better to their own ecosystem,” Bilbao told Dezeen. “The idea that nature took over a building that existed allows for visitors to understand and relate to their own world, which is one that we cannot actually experience and see very clearly.” —Ryan Waddoups

Kappo Masa. Image courtesy of Kappo Masa

A restaurant co-owned by Larry Gagosian faces a class-action lawsuit over unpaid tips.

Kappo Masa, an upscale New York restaurant owned by gallerist Larry Gagosian and chef Masayoshi Takayama, is facing a class-action lawsuit from former employees over unpaid tips. The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant, located beneath Gagosian’s Madison Avenue gallery, used incorrect methods for calculating and distributing both regular service tips and gratuities for private events, resulting in employees being underpaid by 12 percent. If the employees win, any tipped worker at the restaurant since September 2017 could receive money. The restaurant, known for its upscale prices, has vowed to contest the suit, claiming full compliance with wage laws.

A new investigation sheds light on the Kwer’ata Re’esu, a looted Ethiopian painting.

The Kwer’ata Re’esu, a 500-year-old painting depicting Christ, was looted from Ethiopia by British Museum agent Richard Holmes during the battle of Maqdala in 1868. The painting has a rich cross-cultural history, originally created in Europe around 1520 and becoming a revered icon in Ethiopia. It’s currently owned by Isabel Reis Santos in Portugal and stored in a bank vault. The painting has been the subject of various attributions, from Flemish to Portuguese artists, and has even been carried into battles by Ethiopian Christian forces. Despite its intricate history and multiple changes in ownership, there are ongoing efforts to return the painting to Ethiopia, a move that would require approval from the Portuguese government.

“¡Presente!,” the inaugural exhibition of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino on view at the National Museum of American History. Photography by Tony Powell/The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino is facing political setbacks.

The planned Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino in Washington, D.C., is facing political and ideological challenges before construction even begins. Latino Republican congressmen have attempted to slash the museum’s funding, accusing it of presenting Latinos as victims. The museum’s director, Jorge Zamanillo, recently shifted focus from a planned exhibit on the Latino civil rights movement to one on salsa music, sparking debate on the museum’s direction. The controversies have raised questions about the representation of Latino history and culture, especially as the Latino community itself is diverse and politically complex. The museum, authorized by Congress in 2020, is expected to cost around $800 million and take about 12 years to complete.

Amazon makes a major bet on AI by investing up to $4 billion in the startup Anthropic.

Amazon is pouring up to $4 billion into Anthropic, an AI firm, in exchange for a minority stake and a commitment for Anthropic to primarily use Amazon’s cloud platform, AWS, for its AI research and model development. This strategic partnership underscores how big tech companies with extensive cloud resources are leveraging those assets to expand their influence in the AI sector. As part of the agreement, Anthropic will offer its AI models to AWS customers and provide early access to features like model customization. Both Amazon and Anthropic have pledged to the Biden administration to conduct external audits on their AI systems before public release, aligning with industry trends set by companies like Microsoft.

A public art initiative protests the proposed redevelopment of New York’s Penn Station.

The Keepers, a public art initiative, is drawing attention to the risk of over-development and loss of historic sites in New York’s Pennsylvania Station area. Created by Ed Woodham and commissioned by the Preservation League of New York State, the project features performers dressed as moss-covered beings who appeared at culturally significant locations. They aim to protest the Empire State Development’s plan to expand Penn Station, which could displace 2,000 residents and wipe out 1,300 small businesses. The project is collaborating with the Empire Station Coalition, a civic group that recently sued the State of New York for violating environmental laws. The coalition advocates for renovating and repurposing existing infrastructure for a more sustainable urban environment.

Image courtesy of Little Spoon

Today’s attractive distractions:

A mysterious golden orb found on the Gulf of Alaska baffles marine scientists.

Four decades later, Michael Jackson’s famous Moonwalk hat is up for auction.

Here’s how a recently laid-off journalist became a high-stakes weed smuggler.

These Lunchable-like treats forgo rubbery meats for non-GMO ingredients.

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