After a long process of documentation and permits, the 2nd part of the touring exhibition “MAYA, The Great Jaguar Rises” arrives to Kansas City Union Station, Missouri. The 1st part made its debut at the Royal BC Museum (Vancouver, Canada) in 2019, and two other venues, the Cincinnati Museums Center (in Ohio, USA) and the Musée de la Civilization in Quebec (Canada).
The Kansas City Union Station building in Missouri, USA, illuminated with the colors of the Guatemalan flag. The green color, at the main entrance, represents the color of the quetzal on the flag’s shield, as well as the color of jade and the center of the Earth.
With a new collection, in the custody of the La Ruta Maya Foundation, this exhibition traveled from Guatemala with more than 250 Pre-Columbian objects, which are part of the Nation’s cultural heritage, as well as a 20th-century ethnographic collection. Professionals from La Ruta Maya Foundation and the Ministry of Culture and Sports travelled as custodians with the objects. The exhibition presents the great achievements of the Mayan culture as one of the great civilizations of the World, paying special attention to families, schoolchildren and the Latino community in the United States.
The works on display take us on an interpretive journey that spans 3,000 years of history. Limestone monuments share the space with beautiful ceramics, precious jade and greenstone ornaments, basalt stone metates, tools and objects made of shell, bone, flint, obsidian and other materials. The living culture is illustrated with beautiful examples of traditional woven garments, a traditional dance costume with carved wooden masks, musical instruments and videos that reflect social and ritual life through music, gastronomy and cosmovision.
Oswaldo Gómez (on the left), supervisor delegated by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, ready to install the Panel 1 of Cancuén. On the right, Sofía Paredes Maury from La Ruta Maya, installs other objects with the help of MuseumsPartner’s staff.
The exhibition revolves around major themes supported by informative wall panels, replicas, audio and video:
- Meet the Maya
- Life in the Rainforest
- Agriculture and Daily Life
- Cities of Farmers and Artisans
- Gods and Goddesses of the Jungle
- Maya Writing
- The Divinity of Kings and Queens
- Playing with the Gods (the Ball Game)
- Mayan Politics (Diplomatic relations and alliances)
- The Collapse
- The Great Transformation (the Maya did not disappear)
- KAWINAQ— We are still here!
- The Maya in your World
Among the most notable artifacts are the polychrome stucco sculpture depicting an individual wearing a jaguar skin mask and in a crouching position; a jade mosaic mask for a royal belt or a breastplate; various monuments with hieroglyphic writing, and a cave painting. Panel 1 of Cancuén, with 160 hieroglyphs, tells the story of the enthronement of the king of Cancuén under the auspices of Yuknoom Ch’en of Calakmul. Other artifacts include incense burners of all kinds and objects of various materials for ornamental, daily, and ritual use.
Stucco sculpture of a man wearing a jaguar skin mask
Showcase displaying painter / scribe tools and objects with hieroglyphic writing
The exhibit includes a series of interactive stations to engage all ages, such as:
- The Mayan Birthday Calculator
- Two narrated films: “A day in Uxul” and “The gift of the Maize God”
- Using the senses: Replicas of 3D printed artifacts to touch within the exhibition, all associated with a label written in Braille.
- Videos about dances, music and traditions of the living Mayan culture
Replicas to touch
Videos y background music
“Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises” is a joint effort between the Kansas City Union Station (Missouri, USA), La Ruta Maya Foundation and the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and Sports. The curatorship is by Dr. Nikolai Grube (University of Bonn) and the museography is by Rocamora Arquitectura (Alicante, Spain), under the coordination of MuseumsPartner (Austria). Local sponsors for this show are Bank of America, Kansas City PBS, and the Kansas City Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund (NTDF).
The La Ruta Maya Foundation is the only private organization in the region that seeks to recover archaeological objects that left the country illegally in past decades, with the purpose of repatriating them to Guatemala. It has also received donations within the country. For this reason, it is responsible for the custody and management of more than 3,000 archaeological objects, duly registered in the Cultural Property Register (IDAEH) as Cultural Heritage of the Nation for the purpose of custody, protection, conservation, research and exhibition with educational purposes.
Details for your visit:
The Kansas City Union Station is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. More information about the exhibition, and how to get there, can be found on https://unionstation.org/event/maya/ and the Union Station’s social media.
Text: Sofía Paredes Maury, La Ruta Maya Foundation
Photographs of the exhibition: Oswaldo Gómez, Quiriguá Archaeological Park
Photographs of objects in the photo gallery: Jorge Pérez de Lara and FLAAR