Exploring Mexico’s History at the National Museum of Anthropology

I have to admit museums can be hit or miss for me. When I’m in one of the world’s great cities it takes a lot for me to dedicate a few hours to a museum when I could be out exploring. While researching what I should do in Mexico City more than a few people, including some of the most well-traveled bloggers I know as well as some locals I met, recommended that I make a stop at the National Museum of Anthropology my interest was piqued. I expected to learn about Mexico’s pre-Hispanic cultures. but what I found here was so much more than your typical museum. With a location in Mexico Citys Chapultepec Park, a strikingly modern exterior, and a collection of artifacts far beyond my imagination; Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology deserves a place among the world’s great museums.

Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.comExploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com

Steve and I visited the museum after a few hours lazily strolling through Chapultepec Park, Mexico City’s version of Central Park. As we approached to museum I was immediately struck by it’s size-at over 20 acres this place is huge. The exterior building is a stunning work of modern architecture, a behemoth of white marble and concrete featuring honeycomb walls and an interior courtyard. A singular bronze column supports an angular umbrella roof, a breathtaking fountain rains down the bronze column that features a relief depicting important events in Mexican history.

Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com

Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com

We visited on a Sunday when admission is free for Mexican residents (typically 65 pesos any other time or for foreign visitors) but crowds weren’t much of an issue. Before exploring the museum there is a quick stop to drop off any bags or backpacks at a guarded locker station as they aren’t allowed in the main spaces of the museum. The museum’s collection includes artifacts dating back to 100 BC and suffice to say the Museum of Anthropology is comprehensive in its scope and coverage of pre-Columbian cultures. I’m no anthropologist so I wouldn’t do Mexico any justice if I tried to explain the diverse and compelling history based off of my two hour visit here (the folks at the museum would do a much better job than I ever could) but I do want to highlight some of the exhibits that made an impact on me.

Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.comExploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.comExploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com Having visited the Mayan pyramids of Tikal in Guatemala and gazed upon Mayan relics while spelunking in the Actun Tunichil Muknal in Belize it was no surprise that I made a beeline for the Mayan exhibit.The Maya,one of Mesoamerica’s most influential civilizations, are most known for their advanced knowledge of mathematics and astronomy as well as having the fully translated writing system from the pre-Columbian Americas. Highlights here include a full scale replica of the tomb of King Pakal, which was unearthed deep in the jungles of Palenque; and impressive replicas of Mayan temples in an outdoor garden area against the backdrop of urban Mexico City.

Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com
Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com
Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com

The Aztec rooms are some of the most colorful and fascinating parts of the museum.The scale and detail of replicas from the ruins of Teotihuacan are simply jaw dropping. One of the most famous artifacts in the museum’s collection is Aztec Sun Stone, which was unearthed in 1790 in Mexico’s Zocalo during renovations to the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.comExploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com
Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com Leaving the museum I spotted this mural and was immediately drawn to it. The serpent represents light and the jaguar is the night. Are you team serpent or team jaguar?Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com

I could have easily spent an entire day here and still not seen everything. Educational and inspirational, reflective and thought-provoking, the Mexico National Museum of Anthropology is everything a great museum should be.

Exploring Mexico's History at the National Museum of Anthropology www.casualtravelist.com

Mexico City Deals

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19 Comments on “Exploring Mexico’s History at the National Museum of Anthropology

  1. Looks like a pretty good museum, with plenty to see! Although I quite enjoy visiting museums, I have to say I’m a bit like you and rather stay outside exploring. That’s the main reason I also only visit the ones that are highly recommended or on the unique side.
    Hugo Cura recently posted…12 Cuba highlights from travel bloggersMy Profile

  2. This looks amazing! Mexico has always been really high on my bucket list, and seeing all of these artifacts makes me want to go even more. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. We will be spending 6 months in Mexico later this year and at some point we will be visiting Mexico City. We have put the Museum of Anthropology on our list of things to do. My son enjoys museums, his favorite is the Natural History Museum in London. I think he would enjoy this one as well with all of the carvings and masks and statues, it looks like it would be right up his alley.
    Rob recently posted…A Comprehensive List- All of Canada’s National Parks You can Visit Free this YearMy Profile

  4. I like museums and really enjoy learning as much about the history and culture of an area as I can. But I also love to stroll and explore a city…and going to museums takes up valuable time. Plus, it’s harder on the feet because you do a lot of standing! But I agree that there are some museums that are totally worth it, and it looks like this is one of them.
    Tami recently posted…Definitely Montmartre! (A Paris neighborhood worth seeing)My Profile

  5. I’ve been wanting to check out Mexico City for years, and one reason is that I heard wonderful things about the Museum of Anthropology while traveling in other parts of Mexico. Even though I love art and history, I also rarely go to museums when visiting a new city, since I’d rather experience what life is like on the outside. But every now and then, I make an exception if a museum sounds too good to miss, which this one definitely does! (A favorite of mine is the Acropolis Museum in Athens).

  6. I was an Anthropology major in college, and took a course on Mayan archaeology. A truly fascinating culture, and I would love to see more artifacts in person. I do enjoy that Mexico has taken such pride in preserving and showcasing this history to visitors.
    Drew recently posted…Rich Table Deserves a Michelin StarMy Profile

  7. I feel the same way about having a hard time allowing myself to see museums sometimes. I love ancient civilizations (I can never resist a trip to the Angkor temples lol) so this sounds like something I would definitely be interested in (maybe even plan a trip there *for* this!).

  8. I’m so with you – it’s hard to get me inside a museum when there’s so much to do outside. But this looks like it was time well spent! The museum looks fascinating and your photos are fantastic!

  9. I love this museum. It truly is one of the great museums of the world. On my next visit, I plan to spend a lot of time in the Oaxaca exhibit room. I’ll be living in Oaxaca for 6 months this summer
    In Mexico there are layers of the old & new, mixed, & living side by side. It’s living history at it’s best. There’s nothing like it.

  10. I am very interested in learning about the culture and traditions of mexico.This article is very valuable to me!
    Thank you so much!!

  11. Mexico has such an interesting history that this is a place I would definitely like to visit for a better overview. I only spent a long layover in Mexico City and I dedicated it to explore Teotihuacan. If I have another chance to visit it, this museum will be my pick. Pinned the article for a (hopefully) future use

  12. So great that I stumbled upon your post right now, as Mexico City is still on my list this year! It’s going to be my first time and I’m so excited to see the ancient culture there! Bookmarking this one!

  13. What a fun stop! I love museums and know from your great pictures that this one would be one for the books. Fingers crossed to go to Mexico City maybe later in the year.
    Melody Pittman recently posted…London Travel TipsMy Profile

  14. Pingback: The Travel Tester Favourite Blogs March 2017 | The Travel Tester

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