Mexico’s Cultural Treasures

Mexico City's impressive National Museum of Anthropology showcases the region's endlessly rich and diverse pre-Columbian cultural heritage.

The National Museum of Anthropology is Mexico’s most-visited museum. And it’s easy to see why. It has a vast array of exhibits related to Mesoamerica’s cultural history. And it is a region with an exceptionally rich cultural history.

It’s not just about Aztecs and Incas, although there’s an abundance of artifacts from each. But there’s much more than that. There are exhibits on temples of Teotihuacan as well as everyday life in villages in Mexico’s diverse regions. And while the emphasis is squarely on the region’s pre-Columbian history, there are also sections that focus on how cultural heritage as survived in regional areas today.

And then, of course, there are the famous highlights like the imposing and much-misinterpreted Stone of the Sun, which was long known as the Aztec Calendar but is now believed to be what is known as a temalacatl, a stage for sacrificial gladiatorial fights.

What it might lack in the latest whizz-bang museum innovations it more than makes up for with fascinating artifacts. It all makes for an incredibly impressive museum that surely ranks among the world’s best–a place where it’s very easy to spend several hours wandering through the various diverse exhibits.

Photos of Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology

In the background is the Stone of the Sun (Aztec Calendar Stone). Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

The main courtyard is partially shaded by a massive solid umbrella. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

The main entrance. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

A replica Aztec Temple. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Stone of the Sun (Aztec Calendar Stone). Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Huehuetéotl (God of Fire) Dios Viejo (Old God). Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Aztec carvings. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Ceremonial masks. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Teotihuacan Exhibit. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Woven textiles. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

A large Tree of Life (Árbol de la vida). Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

The outside of one of the main buildings. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

A fish sculpture in front of the wetlands pond in the main courtyard. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Aztec temple. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Stone of the Sun (Aztec Calendar Stone) in the background, with other stone sculptures in the foreground. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Chiapas carvings. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

A replica Maya temple in an exhibit outside. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Maya temple. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Maya temple exhibit. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Pakal the Great Sarcophagus. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Culture of Guerrero exhibit. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

A large tomb exhibit. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Dios de la Muerte (God of Death) sculpture in the Maya exhibit. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Exhibit on Cultural History of Chililico, Hidalgo. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Huehuetéotl (God of Fire). Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Seri Cultural artifacts. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Colossal head made of stone. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Traditional weaving looms from Tlaxcala. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Mosaic of the Jaguar in the Maya outdoor exhibit. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Maya building. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Oaxaca exhibit. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Cave paintings. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Masks. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Cabeza Colossal Head. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Weaving looms. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Paquime home. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Pottery. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

A mural in the main foyer. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

The main foyer. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

What to Know Before You Go

  • This is a large and fascinating museum. Budget several hours to get a proper appreciation for its depth and scope. You can wander around at your own pace, and it can absorb a huge number of visitors before it feels crowded.
  • Food options are limited. There is a cafe on site, but it’s not the most expansive. A better bet is to head across the street, the Paseo de la Reforma, to the sprawling Bosque de Chapultepec, where you’ll find anything from sit-down cafes to food carts.
  • You’ll have to check bags. The bag/coat check is on the left-hand side of the main foyer, next to the gift shop.
Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit
Get Directions

/>

Travel Advice for Mexico

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Mexico (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Mexico here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Mexico here.

Share