10 interesting facts about the National Museum of Anthropology

Mexico's Museum of Anthropology is not only a popular tourist attraction but a symbol of Mexico's culture and history
National Museum of Anthropology – Photo: Courtesy of the INAH
08/02/2018
12:44
Newsroom
Mexico City
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1. The name of the fountain is called "El Paraguas" ("The Umbrella") 
In the internal courtyard of the Museum stands a fountain named "El Paraguas" ("The "Umbrella"). It has become the architectonic symbol of the Museum and it's most distinctive element is the carved bronze column at its center, carved by the Chávez Morado brothers, based on the concept of Jaime Torres Bodet. The engravings of the column depict the integration of the indigenous people and the Spanish conquerors (East), Mexico'sprojection to the world (West), and the fight of the Mexican people to gain their freedom (North and South).

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(Fountain "El Paraguas" - Photo from the digital archive of the National Museum of Anthropology, taken from the official website: http://www.mna.inah.gob.mx )

2. The  designer of the Museum also worked in other famous projects
The design was in charge of architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, who also participated in the creation of the Museum of Modern Art, the Basilica of Our Lafy of Guadalupe, the Azteca Stadium...and the image of the Mexico 1968 Summer Olympics. The construction of the Museum of Anthropology took 19 months, bewteen February 1963 and September 1964.

3. It was looted once
On December 25, 1985, 140 pieces were stolen from the Mayan, Mexica, and Monte Albán rooms, which, in total, were valued at MXN5 billion – in those days. Four years later, 133 pieces managed to be recovered, among which is the famous Jade Mask of the Bat God.

4. The first pieces of the Museum's collection were first displayed at the National Museum of Cultures
The first pieces of the Museum's current collection were found in 1970 and were kept in the then-National Museum of Mexico (today, National Museum of Cultures), located in Moneda street. The collection started with the monumental sculpture of “Coatlicue”, the “Sun Stone,” (Calendar Stone), the “Stone of Tízoc,” and the "Head of Xiuhcoatl" (serpent).

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(Sun Stone - Photo: Agencia EL UNIVERSAL)

6. The Museum has kept up with modern times
The National Museum of Anthropology is part of the Google Art Project, and through a 360° virtual tour, you can explore 148 pieces of its collection with their corresponding explanation.

6. The Tláloc statue came from the State of Mexico
The statue of Tláloc, god of rain, was originally located in the town of Coatlinchán, in the Sate of Mexico, and was transferred to the Museum on April 16, 1964. With its 165 tons of weight and 7 meters hight, it took the staff close to eight hours to move it to its current location in Mexico City. This day; however, a strong rain fell and flooded several of the surrounding neighborhoods.

7. Visiting the museum is a good way to exercise
Exploring all the rooms and facilities of the museum, including all its hallways, is equal to walking 5.5 kilometers.

8. The bronze shell in the central courtyard has a purpose
In the central courtyard, you can find a bronze shell sculpted by Iker Larrauri. The work is titled “The Sun of the Wind,” and its purpose is to simulate the sounds made by Pre-Hispanic musical instruments when gusts of wind pass through it.

9. The museum has a second level
Most visitors only keep to the first level, yet in the second one, you can find a vast collection of ethnographic objects exhibited across 11 rooms. The pieces represent the cosmogony and every-day life of the indigenous people of Mexico. You can find ceramics, baskets, feathers, woven artifacts, traditional costumes, and more.

10. It's Mexico's most visited Museum
After the archeological sites of Teotihuacán and Chichen Itzá, the National Museum of Anthropology is the venue which receives the most visitors a year.  In 2017, it had over 2 million of visitors, according to official statistics.

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