In Mexico City

Two million visits a year
 
The National Museum of Anthropology houses the most important archaeological and ethnographic collection worldwide, representing the Pre Hispanic past and the multicultural panorama of Mexico. Among the most famous Mexica stone sculpture pieces are Piedra del Sol.
 
For many reasons, the National Anthropology Museum is considered among the most interesting and transcendental Mexico museums. The collections lodged, Ethnographic and Archaeological, are important worldwide, as the fame of its building, designed to house 120,000 works of great artistic and cultural relevance.
 
The director of the museum, Felipe Solis Olguin, points out that this is the most important Pre Hispanic collection of the world. “We are fortunate to keep the most antique, important and famous pieces”.  In terms of cultural heritage, the local and foreign visitors enjoy invaluable art works here.
 
Every year, the National Museum of Anthropology receives more than two million visits. Most people returns more than once, declares Solis Olguin. This is not a museum that can be visited in one afternoon; you have to come back, as to other great museums, like Louvre, Del Prado, Metropolitan and British Museum.
 
Felipe Solis recognizes that the display, composed of more than 5,000 pieces, is the result of a renovation of the museum, taken place between 1998 and 2004. Each hall had its own curator and display proposal, so “we searched among the cultural, anthropological and chronological collection and we chose the most important and new items, classified by age and group”.
 
The pieces come from different regions of the country and from some archaeological projects or museums, which generously contribute to give a new presence to cultures in the halls. This is what happened with the piece of Toniná, Chiapas, a headstone that represents players of the Ball Game, two kings that evoke the divine twins.
 
The design and construction of the building that lodges the museum was in charge of architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, who has designed important buildings that conform the urban identity of Mexico City, like the Estadio Azteca or the Basilica de Guadalupe.
 
The museum construction ended in 1963, and was inaugurated in 1964 by Adolfo Lopez Mateos, who was then president of Mexico. “This is one of the most outstanding buildings of the twentieth century, planed and built to recover the perspective of ancient archaeology, but with a functional, elegant, attractive, comfortable and solemn proposal, as conceived by Ramirez Vazquez”, Felipe Solis adds.
 
The National Museum of Anthropology occupies more than 52,600 square yards of roofed spaces, and almost 41,800 of open areas. The water mirror, the lighter and shell of the central patio, and the land where it stands, represent the four essential elements: water, fire, wind and earth, respectively.
 
Before beginning the visit through the 23 halls of the museum, the color and texture of the materials used to build each of them, related to Teotihuacana, Olmeca and Maya cultures, can be admired.
 
The carved white marble facade and lobby, and the eagle of the national coat of arms, outstand between the trees. Functionality is reflected in the possibility of a continue circulation, which allows comfort during the visit.
 
A monumental architectural work is the Paraguas, or umbrella, at the central patio. The bronze column symbolic ornament was designed by a couple of artist brothers, Jose and Tomas Chavez Morado.
 
These motives represent Mexico integration. The eagle and the jaguar at the base, symbols of day and night, stand for the Pre Hispanic past which, at the moment of being stabbed by the conquest sword that encrusts in the roots of a ceiba, the Maya tree symbolizing foundation of towns. This act gives birth to a new nation, trough crossbreeding, represented with indigenous and Spaniard faces.
 
On the west side, the projection of Mexico is represented. Above the Pre Hispanic symbols of the base, the West Sun represents the direction where the projection of Mexico began. There is a ceiba that supports a steel beam, the wind rose and a nuclear symbol that stands for firmness, amplitude and brightness of Mexican progress. Above all this, there is a man figure surrounded with olive branches and a dove that symbolizes peace.
 
On the north and south views of the column, the struggle of Mexican people is represented. Independency, Reform and Revolutionary periods are represented with weapons of each age. The capital of the column is carved with Pre Hispanic symbols of heaven. The cascade invites to reflection and rest.
 
The exhibition halls are distributed in two floors, around the main court. The street level floor is dedicated to Archaeology and the second, to Ethnography. Offices, workshops and storage rooms are located in the basement.
 
Other than the exhibition of cultural items, the National Museum of Anthropology uses didactic tools such as scale models, maps, dioramas of the original context of the pieces, audiovisual media and computer generated interactive services. This provides the visitors a panorama of the Pre Hispanic past of Mexico and a journey though the different ethnic group environments, in which they struggle to preserve their traditions in this global world.
 
Other way to understand the culture of Mexico is the contemporary artwork, present in every hall. All the artists had a solid trajectory back in the sixties, when they were called to contribute with their interpretation of the cultural past of the country. Jorge and Tomas Chavez Morado, Carlos Merida, Mathias Goeritz, Raul Anguiano, Leonora Carrington, Rafael Coronel, Luis Covarrubias, Arturo Estrada, Manuel Felguerez, Arturo Garcia Bustos, Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, Iker Larrauri, Adolfo Mexquiac, Nicolas Moreno, Pablo O´Higgins, Nadine Prado, Fanny Rabel, Regina Raull, Valeta Swann, Rufino Tamayo, Antonio Trejo and Alfredo Zalce are among the artists.
 
Located in Chapultepec, the greatest park in Mexico City, the National Museum of Anthropology rises to offer the multicultural panorama of ancient and contemporary Mexico.
 
Museum Tradition
 
In 1790, the first Museum of Natural History of the Royal and Pontific University of Mexico was inaugurated. The Vice Roy of Bucareli ordered to store the documents that conformed the collection of Lorenzo Boturini, chronicler and historian.
 
In 1825 the President Guadalupe Victoria, with advisory of historian Lucas Alaman, founded the Mexican National Museum. Forty years later, the museum moved to the building located in 13 Moneda Street, by orders of Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico.
 
The increase of the collections made the writer and historian Justo Sierra divide the heritage of the National Museum. The collections of Natural History were lodged in the El Chopo building, founding the National Museum of Archaeology, History and Ethnography, inaugurated in 1910, by president Porfirio Diaz.
 
By 1920, the museum lodged more than 52,000 pieces and received more than 200,000 visits. It was until 1940 when the history collections were moved to the Chapultepec castle and its named changed to National Museum of Anthropology.
 
Archaeology Halls
 
The emblematic and monumental monolith that welcomes visitors at the entrance, is Tlaloc, the water deity, and has been here over 40 years. With a 125 tons weight, it was found in the Santa Clara canyon, Estado de Mexico, and has become a symbol and a guardian of the museum.
 
At the main floor of the precinct, the archaeology halls are distributed:
 
Indigenous Cultures of Mexico hall. This space is dedicated to archaeological themes and temporary exhibitions, such as “The Pre Columbian universe of Diego Rivera”, shown in 2007, which included some of his work and part of his Pre Columbian art collection. There were also dioramas reproducing the Tiro tombs, found in Colima, that belong to the period between 200 BC and 600 AD.
 
Settling of America hall. There are admirable scale models and audiovisual presentations, which show theories about how the population raised in our continent, such as the arrival of Homo sapiens from Africa to Asia and then to America, through Bering Strait. In a room below the floor, rests of a mammoth found in Santa Isabel Iztapan, near of Mexico City, can be seen through a glass.
 
The Pre Classic period, which is the longest age and when the most important aspects of Mesoamerica manifested, is characterized for the development of the first sedentary societies between 2300 and 1500 BC.
 
There is an open chamber and representations of the first burials, dated between 1400 and 600 BC. They were designed with parallel walls to avoid landslides. In this hall, objects used to fish and hunt, wood and stone tools are exhibited.
 
Teotihuacana culture hall.  Clara Luz Diaz, curator, points that the most important moment of this culture is when this Pre Hispanic society settles, after a village stage, and begins to develop in 100 BC. In this period is when the population of the Mexico Valley moved into the city and began building the huge pyramids of the Sun and the Moon.
 
This hall lodges a reproduction of the Feathered Serpent pyramid, built between 150 and 200 BC, and three stones that conform the Death Complex, from the Sun’s pyramid excavations, done in 1917. With a height of 10 feet, the Chachitlicue deity representation, wife of Tlaloc, found near the Moon’s pyramid, is one of the outstanding pieces.
 
Tolteca culture hall. At the fall of the Teotihuacan empire, in 650 AD, new urban centers developed, such as Tula, in Hidalgo; Cholula and Cantona, in Puebla; Cacaxtla, in Tlaxcala and Teotenango, in Estado de Mexico. This is the hall where vestiges of these cultures are exhibited, like the Quetzalcoatl stelae from Xochicalco, Morelos, from the period between 650 and 850 AD.
 
In this same area, pieces from the Ball Game are exhibited, and so are other objects like vases and jade carved shells, and animal skins that represent the commerce between Tolteca and Gulf cultures. At the exit of this hall, there are nine stone-carved ball court rings.
 
Mexica culture hall. This is one of the most attractive halls of the museum. The most outstanding pieces, Sun Stone, Coatlicue and the reproduction of the Montezuma feathered headdress, as pointed by Felipe Solis, the director, are some of the pieces that reflect the splendor of this culture.
 
The Jaguar Warrior from Texcoco symbolizes the period of the military relevance of this culture, taken place between 1300 and 1521 AD. This sculpture, carved out of stone, represents the thinking of Mexica people. The buried offering of a circular stone, found where actually the Catholic Cathedral sits, is called Tizoc monument, and refers to the ritual sacrifice of warriors.
 
One of the emblematic pieces of the museum is Piedra del Sol, or Sun Stone. This stone sculpture served as a monumental sacrifice altar, misnamed Calendar, and was discovered in 1790 at the Main Square of the capital city of New Spain.
 
Other outstanding piece displayed is the Coyolxauhqui round carving. This finding determined the exact location of the Templo Mayor, main shrine of Mexico Tenochtitlan. Five atlantes are also in this hall.
 
Oaxaca cultures hall. This region gave birth to many cultures, like Zapoteca and Mixteca. Agriculture began to develop in 7000 BC, and sedentary communities began building permanent constructions in 1500 BC. They developed a unique artistry in Mesoamerica, where goldsmith outstands, as well as codex and earthenware sculpture that reflect their religious universe and history.
 
Stone- carved stelae can be admired by visitors, such as The Dancers or Stela 12, created in 500 BC. Other pieces exhibited are a cranial urn from Monte Alban, the Great jaguar, The Serpent goddess, and earthenware.
 
A replica of Tomb 104 is located underground. It shows the remains of an elder lady, holding a bag with seeds, accompanied by many objects. Other diorama represents the tomb of a great seignior.
 
Gulf cultures hall. The collection of stone and earthenware includes objects from Veracruz, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Puebla, Hidalgo and Queretaro. The Olmeca Colossal Head from San Lorenzo, Veracruz, dated between 200 and 500 BC, is outstanding.
 
Other important pieces are The Tiger Man and the Giver of Life goddess, both from Veracruz. Outside, there is a replica of the Tajin Southern Ball Game Court, where the Death goddess stands. This monumental sculpture was created between 500 and 800 AD.
 
Maya culture hall. This culture developed in the southeast region of Mexico and part of Central America, 2000 years ago, approximately. The most outstanding pieces include the Izapa stelae, carved in limestone, and the Yaaxchilan lintel, where deities and priests are represented, as well as a tableau from Palenque.
 
Outside the hall, there is a replica of a Campeche temple, known as Chenes, which supposedly was the entrance to the mouth of deities.
 
At an underground level, the sarcophagus found in 1952 by Alberto Ruz at Palenque, is exhibited in a diorama that represents Pakal tomb. A Chac mool, and a representation of the Descendent God, with figures of beheaded warriors and sacrifices, are also remarkable.
 
Western Mexico cultures hall. The cultures that inhabited the Mexican states of Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco are included in this group. The replicas of Tiro tombs, representatives of this region, as well as earthenware works, such as vases and sculptures, are exhibited. The Chac mool of Huitzio, created between 1200 and 1521 AD.
 
Northern Mexico cultures hall. This is the last archaeological hall. The replicas of Casas Grandes typical dwelling, and of the rock paintings of Baja California are exhibited here. The Candelaria cave, a mausoleum built in a 30 feet deep hollow, where human and animal bones were found, in Coahuila is also represented.

Ethnographical halls
 
They are located in the upper floor of the museum, and represent the multi-ethnic development of Mexico.
 
Indian Peoples hall. An artistic tree, that stands for ethnic diversity and cultural richness of Mexico, created by the artist Miguel Angel Gutierrez from Estado de Mexico, welcomes visitors to this hall.
 
Ethnographic hall. Lodges audio recordings about military, biological, economic, cultural and religious conquests Indigenous groups had to face. Cultural
transformation, changes in thinking and customs, and evolution to contemporary peoples, are also themes of this hall.
 
Purepecha hall. A map that locates origin of Purepecha groups, also known as Tarascos, settled in Michoacan, indicates they coexisted with Nahua, Pirinda, Otomi, Apaneca and Teca peoples. 
 
Otopame hall. Groups that descend from this branch actually inhabit Hidalgo-Puebla and Las Cruces mountain ranges; the valleys of Mezquital and Toluca, and part of Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Michoacan, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí; this remains a continuous cultural area. These groups include Otomi, Mazahua, Chichimeca, Matlatzinca and Ocuilteca cultures. Outstanding works are the Tlaxcala and Osuna codex, which represents the way of life in the cliffs.
 
Oaxaca hall. A great mural painting by Arturo Garcia Bustos, made in 1964, shows a Tehuantepec Isthmus market, earthenware and textiles. Other one, by Arturo Estrada, represents the Juquila virgin, the mount and sanctuary of Santa Catarina, where indigenous inhabitants, like Zapoteca and Mixteca, perform syncretic rituals.
 
Gulf coast, Northwest and Nahua halls. The conquest suffered by the original inhabitants of Mexico, included slavery and new moral principles, but a culture was originated as a result of the mix.
 
Services of the museum
 
Library. Eusebio Davalos library lodges 400,000 books of Anthropology, History, Art History and themes related. It is located in the first floor and is open Monday to Friday, from 9 to 20 hours. Telephones: 5553 6885 and 5553 6266, extension 262.
 
Auditoriums. The Jaime Torres Bodet is located in the main floor, and 364 persons can attend sit. Fray Bernardino de Sahagun, the other auditorium, is in the first floor, and has 100 seats. Lectures, book presentations, conferences and other academic activities take place here.
 
Shop. It is located in the lobby. Jewelry, books, replicas of the collection’s archeological pieces, postcards and textiles can be bought.
 
Information Module. Located in the lobby, provides services to visitors. There is also a restaurant, sickbay, checkroom, parking lot and lockers.
 
The facilities for the physically challenged include an elevator, electric stairs and wheelchairs.
 
In order to preserve the cultural heritage, flash or tripods are not allowed, nor the entrance with voluminous objects, food or beverages. There is a fee when using photographic or video camera.
 
We are waiting for you!
 
National Museum of Anthropology is located in Chapultepec Park, in the corner of Paseo de la Reforma Avenue and Gandhi Street, colonia Chapultepec Polanco.  The huge Tlaloc monolith and the white marble hallway are the best references to find it, and closest Metro stations are Line 7’s Auditorio or Line 1’s Chapultepec.
 
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 19:00, Sunday and Holidays 10:00 to 16:00. The admission fee is $48 MXP. Children under 13, students, teachers and senior citizens presenting a valid ID do not pay. Free admission on Sunday for Mexican citizens and residents. Guided tours in Spanish, English and French, Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 to 17:30.
 
Complementary activities, such as courses, lectures, workshops for children and young people, and guided tours for Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary students, must be arranged at the Cultural Services Department, 5553 6253 and 5553 6554. For High school and University student tours, the appointments are settled at Cultural Outreach Department, 5553 6381 and 5553 6386.
 
Further information at www.mna.inah.gob.mx