12 | NOV | 2019
Mexican prison to be turned into Olmec museum
Local neighbors are willing to donate their private collections and original pieces found underground during the founding of the city 50 years ago - Photo: Sáshenka Gutiérrez/EFE

Mexican prison to be turned into Olmec museum

05/03/2019
17:57
Luma López
Mexico City
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The prison housed around 100 inmates, including dangerous criminals, before closing down in 2015

The Olmec civilization is considered the forerunner of all subsequent Mesoamerican cultures including the Maya and the Aztecs, dating back to 400 B.C. It was also the first culture to create urban centers such as La Venta, in the state of Tabasco.

Now, a group of people in the Huimanguillo municipality, near the archeological site of La Venta, has decided to create the first Olmec community museum in a former prison that used to house serial killers and drug dealers.

The city of La Venta has a population of around 15 thousand people who are now looking to promote cultural, artistic, and touristic activities in a region that has been struck by drug violence and fuel theft in recent years.

Local neighbors are willing to donate their private collections and original pieces found underground during the founding of the city 50 years ago, under the condition that Mexico’s Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) commits to exhibiting the pieces without the families losing their rights to property.

The prison housed around 100 inmates, including murderers and gang members, until it closed down in 2015.

Orrante Weber, chairman of the La Venta Urban Improvement Committee, which has fought to recover Olmec relics kept by the INAH, pointed out that local citizens are planning to implement a tourist attraction project similar to the one in Palenque, Chiapas.

Dozens of neighboors have passed archeological pieces from generation to generation, including sculptures, vases, obsidian jewelry, jade, and necklaces that have not been presented to the public eye, though they may soon be put on display for everyone to see.

The cultural promoter Charlie Valentino León Flores Vera, who offered a tour through the abandoned municipal prison, which operated for 35 years and had a population of around 100 inmates, explained that the facilities were in optimal conditions for refurbishment.

This prison once housed murderers and highly dangerous criminals. Now, we are working to turn it into a school-museum. We will offer stone sculpture and painting workshops to teach visitors how to make mural reliefs, among other things,” he stated.
 

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