Mexico City has hundreds of incredible museums to explore, but the Museum of Anthropology is definitely one of the biggest, best, and most famous. It’s only 75 pesos (about $3.75 USD, maybe), but there is so much to see! You could easily spend a whole day here. However, if a whole day of museums is too much for you, it’s right by Chapultepec and the Museum of Modern Art. Both of those are also technically museums as well but would at least be a change of pace, and there are pretty spaces to walk around in the Chapultepec area as well.
The museum is organized into huge rooms by period/area and includes all pre-Hispanic civilizations in the territory that now makes up Mexico. Each room is huge and full of artifacts to wander through. For example, look at the room below:
That’s the famous Aztec Sun Calendar in the back. It’s huge, but the room is so big that it looks almost small when you walk in!
Once you’re up close to it, it’s clear just how big it is! The Sun Calendar isn’t the only really big item on display–there are also these Olmec stone heads.
It was at least six feet tall.
In addition to these two obviously eye-catching items, I really enjoyed getting to see this panache (feathered headdress). The picture isn’t great–it’s way more impressive in person, but you still get a sense of the vibrant colors. It’s got a pretty good wingspan too!
I learned about both the Sun Calendar and the panache in AP Art History my senior year of high school (as well as a lot of other artwork we saw in Mexico), and it was so cool to see them in real life! Also, this is further proof that you don’t have to go to Europe to see great art.
Here are some other photos from the exhibits.
At one point we wandered upon these cool replica buildings outside the main museum building in the Mayan exhibit. Even in the middle of a huge museum in a huge city, it really did feel like you were in the jungle for a minute!
One of the coolest things about the museum in my opinion was the demonstration of a voladores ceremony outside the entrance. I wish I could upload a video. It was really cool and went on for several minutes.
This ceremony started out as a ritual to bring rain and end a drought. It actually was clouding over and did start raining just a little bit after the ceremony ended!
If you miss the voladores here, you can also see them outside of Teotihuacan.
This is a really cool museum, and it’s worth taking your time here. I would recommend deciding which museums and murals you care about most in Mexico City and going to them first or doing your best to break them up with other activities because they definitely start blurring together at a certain point, meaning you won’t appreciate any of them as much as you should. If you have any interest in art, history, archaeology, anthropology, or anything else along those lines, definitely make this one a priority though!
Things you should know if you go:
- Admission is 75 pesos.
- You don’t need a permit to take photos, but you can’t use flash.
- Video permits cost 45 pesos.
- There is a museum restaurant on site with a buffet or a standard menu.
- If you contact them in advance and have at least five people in your group, you can get a guided tour (in English or a few other languages as well). Check the museum’s website for more info on this!