The Museo de la Cultura Maya is the city’s claim to cultural fame – a bold showpiece beautifully conceived and executed, though regrettably short on artifacts. It’s organized into three levels, mirroring Maya cosmology. The main floor represents this world; the upper floor the heavens; and the lower floor Xibalbá, the underworld. The various exhibits cover all of the Mayab (lands of the Maya).
Scale models show the great Maya buildings as they may have appeared, including a temple complex set below Plexiglas you can walk over. Though original pieces are in short supply, there are replicas of stelae and a burial chamber from Honduras’ Copán, reproductions of the murals found in Room 1 at Bonampak, and much more. Mechanical and computer displays illustrate the Maya’s complex calendrical, numerical and writing systems.
The museum’s courtyard, which you can enter for free, has salons for temporary exhibitions of modern artists. In the middle of the courtyard is a na (thatched hut) with implements of daily Maya life on display: gourds and grinding stones.