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National Museum of Anthropology (MNA)

Photo: Stéphane Gallay from Onex, Switzerland Wikimedia Creative Commons License

Mexico City’s Crown Jewel

The most visited museum in all Mexico, the National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología, MNA) is a must see for visitors from around the world.

Here’s just the briefest of introductions.

Between 1940 and 1960, an intense intellectual movement flourished. It sought a Mexican identity based on the dignity of the very indigenous heritage that had long been looked down upon. This movement wanted to create a great museum to tie together all indigenous Mexican heritage, especially that gained through archaeology.

The administration of President Adolfo Lopez Mateos began planning, and a museum was built under the direction of architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez between 1963 and 1964. Today, the National Anthropology Museum is known worldwide for the richness and quality of the collections exhibited here.

The collection dates back to 1790 when the Sun Stone was uncovered at the base of the Metropolitan Cathedral. The years that followed saw major works rediscovered: monumental sculptures of Coatlicue, the Tizoc Stone, and the colossal head of a Xiuhcoatl (the fire serpent). These finds fueled an increased interest in knowledge and the desire to protect this cultural heritage and its meanings.

The building itself has also won awards. The suspended roof (pictured) is the central focus of the museum courtyard. Designed in the style of the open forums of Maya ceremonial centres, all the decorations on the façade are allegorical, making references to pre-Hispanic symbols such as the snake and the snail.

The National Museum of Anthropology is divided into two major sections.

Anthropology

The Anthropology section occupies the ground floor of the building, and access to the rooms is directly from the large central courtyard. Eleven galleries provide a good grasp on the entire field of anthropology.

  1. Introduction to Anthropology
  2. The Peopling of the Americas
  3. The Pre-classical Period in the Central Highlands
  4. The Teotihuacan Culture
  5. The Toltecs
  6. The Epi-classic period
  7. Mexica Culture
  8. The Cultures of Oaxaca
  9. The Cultures of the Gulf Coast
  10. Mayan Culture
  11. Cultures of the West and North.

At the center of the museum, dominating the central hall, is the great Aztec calendar stone which was recovered from the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the Sun Stone.

Ethnography

The Ethnography area, on the upper floors, has eleven more galleries dedicated to the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Galleries are organized as follows.

  1. Pueblos Indios
  2. Gran Nayar
  3. Puréecherio
  4. Otopame
  5. Sierra de Puebla
  6. Oaxaca: Pueblos Indios del Sur
  7. Culturas del Golfo de México
  8. Pueblos Mayas de la planicie y las selvas
  9. Pueblos Mayas de las montañas
  10. El Noroeste: Sierras, desiertos y valles
  11. Los Nahuas

The museum also participates in the research, protection, and dissemination of all of its collections.

  • Tuesday to Sunday
  • 9 am to 5 pm year round
  • Closed all Mondays

Phone: +52 (55) 5553-6266

Web: https://mna.inah.gob.mx/

Email: atencion.mna@inah.gob.mx

Price: 75

Address:

Av. Paseo de la Reforma s/n, Col. Chapultepec Polanco.