Monday, March 7, 2011

In Mexico City, museums are THE thing to do

On Saturday I came across general-purpose feature article about Mexico City in the Sydney Morning Herald Travel section.  I read it with pleasure as John Huxley walked us along streets and in and out of various places.

Museo Mural Diego Rivera

I kept reading to the end because I'll be visiting Mexico City in July!

It was only after I finished the article that I realised the only places he discussed were museums and heritage sites. Maybe that is all there is to Mexico City or maybe Huxley is a museum geek. Or maybe museums are THE thing to do to make sense of Mexico.

The only other aspect of life in Mexico that Huxley raised was the pervading violence in Mexican history and in current society.

Maybe museums really are safe places.  Or maybe not, as Huxley notes–

For visitors to Mexico, there is no shortage of violence to be found in its museums, in the pages of its tumultuous history, in the ruins of its ancient monuments. At the Museo del Templo Mayor, in the centre of Mexico City, for example, there are blood-curdling accounts of the human sacrifices made by the Aztecs.... for four days in 1487, priests honoured their gods by ripping the beating hearts from some 30,000 captured warriors lined up four abreast for three miles.

Troksy's house museum (where he got the ice pick in the head), Frida Kahlo's house (her physical suffering), Inquisition museum (torture instruments)... and so on. I begin to see what I am in for.

Museums and heritage sites are the best places to understand Mexico's culture, including the culture of violence.

Huxley's focus on museums is another piece of evidence that museums are vital to meaning-making, culture, life and travel.

Posted by Gillian Savage

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