Museo Nacional de Antropología
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Museo Nacional de Antropología information
This world-class museum stands in an extension of the Bosque de Chapultepec. Its long, rectangular courtyard is surrounded on three sides by two-level display halls. The 12 ground-floor salas (halls) are dedicated to pre-Hispanic Mexico, while upper-level salas show how Mexico’s indigenous descendants live today, with the contemporary cultures located directly above their ancestral civilizations.
Everything is superbly displayed, with much explanatory text translated into English. At the entrance, you will find rentable audio guides in English, and the starting point for free guided tours (four daily except Sunday, one hour) in English, which are worthwhile to make sense of Mexico's complicated history. The vast museum offers more than most people can absorb in a single visit. Here’s a brief guide to the ground-floor halls, proceeding counterclockwise around the courtyard.
Culturas Indígenas de México Currently serves as a space for temporary exhibitions.
Introducción a la Antropología Introduces visitors to the field of anthropology.
Poblamiento de América Demonstrates how the hemisphere’s earliest settlers got here and survived and prospered in their new environment.
Preclásico en el Altiplano Central Focuses on the pre-Classic period, treated here as running from approximately 2300 BC to AD 100, and the transition from a nomadic hunting life to a more settled farming existence in Mexico’s central highlands.
Teotihuacán Displays models and objects from the Americas’ first great and powerful state.
Los Toltecas y su Época Covers cultures of central Mexico from about AD 650 to 1250. On display is one of the four basalt warrior columns from Tula’s Temple of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli.
Mexica Devoted to the Mexica, aka Aztecs. Come here to see the famous sun stone, unearthed beneath the Zócalo in 1790, and other magnificent sculptures from the pantheon of Aztec deities.
Culturas de Oaxaca Displays the fine legacy of Oaxaca’s Zapotec and Mixtec civilizations.
Culturas de la Costa del Golfo Spotlights the important civilizations along the Gulf of Mexico, including the Olmec, Totonac and Huastec. Stone carvings include two Olmec heads weighing in at almost 20 tonnes.
Maya Exhibits findings from southeast Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. A full-scale replica of the tomb of King Pakal, discovered deep in the Templo de las Inscripciones at Palenque, is simply breathtaking.
Culturas del Occidente Profiles cultures of western Mexico.
Culturas del Norte Covers the Casas Grandes (Paquimé) site and other cultures from northern Mexico, and traces their links with indigenous groups of the US southwest.
In a clearing about 100m in front of the museum’s entrance, indigenous Totonac people perform their spectacular voladores rite – ‘flying’ from a 20m-high pole – every 30 minutes.