Cascade Park

Cascade Park

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Scoping Out the Museum

Last week I made my umpteenth visit to the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City's premier museum, and one of the great museums of the world.

Tomorrow my friends Cliff and Jeramie will be arriving for a six day visit, and I will be showing them the sights.  Of course, the Anthropology Museum is on the itinerary.  The museum is too large to see everything.  When my friends Nancy and Fred were here last autumn, I gave them a tour of the highlights focusing on the Olmec, Mayan, Teotihuacán and Aztec civilizations.  I plan to do that again with Cliff and Jeramie.  My visit last week was a sort of dress rehearsal, reviewing once again the items in the museum that I want to show them.  

I started with the Olmecs, the oldest civilization in Mexico.  I was surprised to find that several of the important artefacts from that civilization were missing.  As it turned out in the special exhibit hall of the museum there is a presentation on the pre-Hispanic cultures of the Gulf coast (including the Olmecs) going on.  The exhibit includes not only pieces from the museum's own collection, but from other museums throughout the country.

However, even after going through the special exhibit, one of the most important works of Olmec sculpture was unaccounted for... the statue known as "The Wrestler".

(Image taken from the web)
This carving is admired for its realism, sense of movement and aesthetic qualities.  I asked one of the guards where it was, and he said that it was on tour, although he didn't know where.  So, I will cross that off the list of things to show my visitors.

The last time I was at the museum the Aztec hall was partially under renovation.  I wanted to check that out and see what progress had been made there.  Fortunately, the work is mostly complete.

However, work is still under way on the model of the center of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital.

I left just in time to see the ritual of the "flyers of Papantla" which is presented hourly not far from the museum's entrance.  The "flyers" are tied by their ankles to a rope connected to a tall pole.  They throw themselves back and slowly descend, revolving around the pole.

Hopefully, I can time it right so that Cliff and Jeramie will see this ritual after our tour of the museum.

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