Fodor's Expert Review Gran Museo del Mundo Maya

Mérida Museum/Gallery Fodor's Choice

Whether or not the "Grand Museum of the Mayan World" lives up to its lofty name depends on your tastes and expectations, but the institution has certainly made a big architectural splash. The starkly modern building was designed to resemble a giant ceiba tree, sacred to the Maya, and it looms over the northern outskirts of town on the highway to Progreso. (Plan on a M$100 taxi ride from downtown to get here.)

Inaugurated the night of Dec. 21, 2012 (the reputed end of the world according to the Mayan calendar), the museum showcases an amazing collection of 1,100 Mayan artifacts previously housed at the Palacio Cantón, where there was limited room for displays. Here, exhibitions wind through four themed halls: The Mayab, Nature, & Culture; Ancestral Maya; Yesterday's Maya; and Today's Maya. Much of the exhibit space is given over to multimedia presentations, and therein lies the problem for some museum purists. The interactive screens are enormously popular, especially... READ MORE

Whether or not the "Grand Museum of the Mayan World" lives up to its lofty name depends on your tastes and expectations, but the institution has certainly made a big architectural splash. The starkly modern building was designed to resemble a giant ceiba tree, sacred to the Maya, and it looms over the northern outskirts of town on the highway to Progreso. (Plan on a M$100 taxi ride from downtown to get here.)

Inaugurated the night of Dec. 21, 2012 (the reputed end of the world according to the Mayan calendar), the museum showcases an amazing collection of 1,100 Mayan artifacts previously housed at the Palacio Cantón, where there was limited room for displays. Here, exhibitions wind through four themed halls: The Mayab, Nature, & Culture; Ancestral Maya; Yesterday's Maya; and Today's Maya. Much of the exhibit space is given over to multimedia presentations, and therein lies the problem for some museum purists. The interactive screens are enormously popular, especially with younger visitors. (One all-the-rage panel of screens lets you tap in your birth date, convert it to the corresponding date on the Mayan calendar, and email yourself your Mayan horoscope.) Museum officials have responded to criticisms about the inclusion of modern technology by saying that Mayan culture isn't merely an artifact of the past but an evolving way of life that has adapted to modern times. So why not adapt a museum's teaching methods to modernity, too?

Everything here—artifact labeling and multimedia narration—is trilingual (Spanish, English, and Maya). An outdoor sound-and-light show depicting Mayan themes is projected onto the building's exterior on weekend nights. With 34 changing screens, the spectacle is billed as Latin America's largest such show. An adjoining theater, named the Mayamax, screens films, and a concert hall hosts some of the biggest names in Latin American showbiz.

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Museum/Gallery Fodor's Choice Family

Quick Facts

Calle 60 Norte
Mérida, Yucatán  97110, Mexico

999-341–0430

www.granmuseodelmundomaya.com

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: M$170, Wed.–Mon. 8–5; sound-and-light show Fri.–Sun. 8:30 pm, Closed Tues.

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