Whether or not next Friday represents the end of the world as we know it, tourism officials in Cancun are betting that visitors will want to know even more about the mysterious Mayan civilization in the years ahead.
To that end, Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) opened the $15 million Maya Museum on Nov. 1, six years in the making and perfectly on time — to celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar and a new era.
The museum features the largest modern structure ever built by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) since the Templo Mayor Museum was built in Mexico City in 1987.
Cancun’s Maya Museum includes 350 archeological artifacts that took 30 years to collect, featuring both relics that have never before been shown to the public and exhibitions that have been previously displayed at other venues. Three exhibition halls of more than 4,400 square feet make up the museum’s venues, including two permanent areas and one temporary venue for national and international exhibitions.
Upon entering the museum, visitors encounter an exhibition of 14,000-year-old skeletal remains that were discovered in Tulum’s underwater caves and offer insight into human development on the American continent.
The first exhibition room is dedicated to the Maya population that once resided on what is now Quintana Roo. It focuses specifically on the remains of La Mujer de las Palmas, or The Woman of the Palms, which are estimated to date back approximately 10,000 years to the Ice Age, and were found in an underground cavern of the same name in 2002. The museum’s second exhibition room was designed to represent the area’s diversity, and features a Maya Room that showcases Maya architecture, art and other artifacts of Mayan daily life. Highlights include sculptures and architectural fragments of Chichen Itza, as well as a collection of ancient engraved bricks from the city of Comalcalco in Tabasco.
Alfonso de Maria y Campos, the director of the INAH, expects around a million visitors to the new museum per year.
The recently opened San Miguelito archeological site, located next to the Maya Museum, provides added cultural and historical value to the attraction. This location was inhabited more than 800 years ago, until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, and can be viewed in combination with the museum for a single admission price.
Tickets cost around $5 each for access to both the museum and the San Miguelito site, with children under age 13 and seniors over 60 years old eligible to enter for free. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with special Thursday hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is located on Kukulkan Boulevard in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
Canada’s Signature Vacations is running some packages to Cancun that take advantage of this new attraction and enjoy stays at a Cancun address for RIU Hotels & Resorts, Palace Resorts, or Hard Rock Hotels.