The National Museum of Anthropology is a national museum of Mexico. It is the most visited museum in Mexico. Located in the area between Paseo de la Reforma and Mahatma Gandhi Street within Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, the museum contains significant archaeological and anthropological artifacts from the Mexico's pre-Columbian heritage, such as the Stone of the Sun (or the Aztec calendar stone) and the 16th-century Aztec Xochipilli statue.
The Central Courtyard Umbrella
Designed in 1964 by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Jorge Campuzano and Rafael Mijares, it has an impressive architecture with exhibition halls surrounding a courtyard with a huge pond and a vast square concrete umbrella supported by a single slender pillar around which splashes an artificial cascade. The halls are ringed by gardens, many of which contain outdoor exhibits. The museum has 23 rooms for exhibits and covers an area of 79,700 square meters (almost 8 hectares) or 857,890 square feet (almost 20 acres).
At the end of the 18th century the documents that formed part of the collection by Lorenzo Boturini were placed by order of the viceroy of Bucareli in the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico. There they also sheltered the sculptures of Coatlicue and the Sun Stone which would begin the tradition of constructing museums in Mexico.
On 25 August 1970 it was unveiled the first Museum of Natural History set up by botanist Jose Longinos Martínez. The inauguration of this museum necessitated a meeting of elderly people with great importance given to protect these historical monuments.
By the 19th century the museum was visited by illustrious science men, such as Alexander von Humboldt, who spread the artistic and historical value of the pre-Hispanic monuments. It was obtained in 1825 by order of the president of the Republic Guadalupe Victoria, and advised by the historian Lucas Alamán that they found the National Mexican Museum as an autonomous institution. By the year of 1865, the emperor Maximiliano of Habsburg ordered the move of the museum to the building located on the street of Moneda 13, where the Casa de Moneda had been.
By 1906 the growth of the collections encouraged Justo Sierra to divide the stock of the National Museum, therefore the collections of natural history moved to the beautiful building of Chopo which was constructed specifically to shelter permanent expositions.
The museum then received the name National Museum of Archaeology, History and Ethnography and was re-opened September 9th, 1910 in the presence of President Porfirio Díaz. In the year of 1924 the stock of the museum had increased to 52,000 objects and had received more than 250,000 visitors which conceded it the right to vote for the adjudication of the Nobel Prize. It was considered one of the most interesting and prestigious museums of the world.
On December 13, 1940 they moved the history collections to the Castle of Chapultepec, and the museum changed its name to what it is now: The National Museum of Anthropology. The construction of the actual museum began in February 1963 in the fields of Chapultepec. As it was mentioned in the Architecture subsection, the project was coordinated by architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and assisted by Rafael Mijares and Jorge Campuzano. With the motive of the inauguration of the National Museum of Anthropology in mind, the Secretary of Public Education commissioned the songwriter Carlos Chávez the creation of a musical piece titled "Resonances". This piece would be released the same day of the inauguration of the museum. The construction of the project lasted 19 months and on September 17, 1964 it was inaugurated by President Adolfo López Mateos, who declared:
The Mexican people lift this monument in honor of the admirable cultures that flourished during the Pre-Columbian period in regions that are now territory of the Republic. In front of the testimonies of those cultures, the Mexico of today pays tribute to the indigenous people of Mexico in whose example recognizes characteristics of their national originality.
Original Aztec Sunstone, available for featuring
Opened in 1964 by President Adolfo López Mateos, the museum has a number of significant exhibits, such as the Stone of the Sun giant stone heads of the Olmec civilization that were found in the jungles of Tabasco and Veracruz, treasures recovered from the Mayan civilization, at the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza, a replica of the sarcophagal lid from Pacal's tomb at Palenque and ethnological displays of contemporary rural Mexican life. It also has a model of the location and layout of the former Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, the site of which is now occupied by the central area of modern-day Mexico City itself.
The permanent exhibitions on the ground floor cover all pre-Columbian civilizations located on the current territory of Mexico as well as in the southwestern states of the USA. They are classified as North, West, Mayan, Gulf of Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, Toltec, and Teotihuacan. The permanent expositions at the first floor show the culture of Native American population of Mexico since the Spanish colonization.
The museum also hosts visiting exhibits, generally focusing on other of the world's great cultures. Past exhibits have focused on ancient Iran, Greece, China, Egypt, Russia, and Spain.
There is another institution, the National Museum of History which is located in the nearby Chapultepec Castle, but it is a different museum altogether. The former focuses on pre-Columbian Mexico and modern day Mexican ethnography. The latter focuses on the Viceroyalty of the New Spain and its progress towards modern Mexico, up to the 20th century.
However, the official administrative body that manages both museums is the National Institute of Anthropology and History (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia).