If you are, like me, ignorant of the Mexican cultural heritage and pre-colonial history and find stories of lost ancient cultures fascinating and tragic, then you’ll probably find great interest in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Maya, Aztec, and endless other former glorious cultures are all features with detailed explanations.

To my surprise, I soon realized just how little we know of these cultures. Got to hand it to the Spanish, they sure knew how to wipe out any signs of former cultures, all in the name of money, Jesus and a so called enlightened civilization. And God was on their side, sending help in the form of bacterial and viral infections from the European mainland that massacred the poor locals by the hundreds of thousands. In this museum, every room is a reminder of the tragedy of colonialism.  Not that I’m in favor of human sacrificing rituals and tribes killing each other, but the artifacts in this museum are so special and unique and so different than anything we know from European cultures, that you can’t help but feel sad and ashamed for how things turned out. Why the locals have so passionately embraced the colonizing religion which massacred them fascinates me till this very day, just how is some guy preaching around Israel ~2000 years ago related to all of these local religions is beyond me, but I guess you could ask the same about most of the western world and their former pre-Roman beliefs. With that said, this museum does also do a good job at explaining the political, historical and religious circumstances of what made Mexico into what it is today, and at opening our minds to accept the very troubling historical processes that took place in this region of the world.

 

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (5)

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (8)

 

As you approach the museum from the nearby park, you’ll probably come across this : 

 

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (3)

 

Which you’ll find all across Mexico, and always the same ritual cultural dance of people in colorful outfits circling around in the air while someone circles around asking for a donation.

 

Here, watch the video:

 

 

Want a taste of what’s inside?

 

Here’s the main room, the one that most people come here to see, with the Mayan calendar in the back…

 

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (9)

 

And there are various other rooms…

 

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (36)

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (11)

 

As well as outside ripoffs of famous cultural sites around Mexico…

 

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (16)

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (19)

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (20)

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (22)

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (23)

 

And on the upper levels an exhibition of the local tribes and their lives…

 

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (29)

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (30)

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (31)

 The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (33)

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (39) 

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (43) 

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (41) 

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (46) 

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (48)

The National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (49)

 

Location:

 

Warning. This museum is gigantic. My tolerance for museums, even ones I like is about 2.5 hours, after which I am overwhelmed by fatigue and in urgent need of caffeine. If you’re as interested in this as I was, and you’re in town for more than a few days, I’d split it into a few shorter visits that would allow you to really get to the heart of matters. If not, I’d ask the information desk for the highlight rooms based on your cultural historical preferences and make my way to concentrate on those. Otherwise, it’s too large and all the cultures will get mixed up, and you’ll end up remember very little.

If you’d ask me what I’ve learned, then it would probably be this – history is told by those who conquered yet we tend to forget and overlook those who were lost along the way. What a tragedy, what a shame.



Tags: aztec; Chapultepec Park; culture; lost cultures; maya; mexico city; Museo Nacional de Antropología; The National Museum of Anthropology;


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