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  • Maya: The Exhibition at the California Science Center

Los Angeles, California, April 2023 – Featuring original artifacts and audiovisuals, the exhibition explored the rise and fall of the ancient Mayan civilization that occupied part of Mesoamerica. Two hundred and forty-five (245) Pre-Columbian objects and more than thirty (30) ethnological objects from the 20th and 21st centuries (including textiles, clothing, musical instruments, and utensils) were distributed within an architectural display that simulate the features of temples, palaces, and a lush tropical jungle (an exhibition design by the award-winning firm Rocamora Arquitectura).

Many of the Pre-Columbian artifacts – worked in jade, ceramics, shell, and a variety of stones – were presented to the public for the first time outside of Guatemala, illustrating different aspects of the Mayan civilization and diplomatic relations with other large cities – such as Teotihuacan – and the City-States throughout the Maya area. Although the exhibit emphasized on the ancient Mayan civilization around 600 AD, their achievements and knowledge in agriculture, architecture, science and astronomy have roots that date back to at least 3,000 years. At their peak, the Maya developed one of the most advanced civilizations of the American continent, creating a language written with hieroglyphs as well as a complex calendar system showing the movements of the sun, moon, stars, and planets.

The exhibition, which was previously presented at the Kansas City Union Station in Missouri, USA, showed how the impressive cities had pyramid-temples, palaces, ballcourts and large plazas. Visitors were invited to discover how the ancient Maya used science and engineering to build and sustain cities in the middle of the rainforest, and what led them to leave their urban homes and transform their society.

According to the words of Fernando Paiz, president of La Ruta Maya Foundation, exhibitions like this are a great opportunity for the country, as they promote not only the dissemination of information about cultural heritage, but also tourism. By seeing an exhibition like this – Paiz explained – a person can say “let’s get there, let’s see Tikal, Chichicastenango, Atitlán, let’s visit Guatemala“… “Being shown in the city of Los Angeles is very important, because It is where the largest population of Guatemalans, in the United States of America, lives.”

On opening night, the 3 levels of the museum were hosting artistic displays by various groups from the Guatemalan community in Los Angeles, highlighting the marimba ensembles and traditional dances by the Danzas Mayas Ahpop Tecun dance company. The inauguration was attended by personalities from the arts, culture, and political worlds, including NASA astronauts.

The Pre-Columbian collection is property of the Nation of Guatemala and is in the custody of the La Ruta Maya Foundation for protection, conservation, research, and exhibition for educational purposes. The ethnological objects were important loans from the collections of the K’inich Museum of Musical Instruments (Guatemala), Mrs. Anabella Schloesser-Paiz and Friends of the Ixchel Museum (USA).

Credits:

Exhibition Curator: Dr. Nikolai Grube

Exhibition Design: Angel Luis Rocamora, from Rocamora Arquitectura (Alicante, Spain).

Exhibition Promoter: MuseumsPartner, Austria

News Report by La Voz del Inmigrante, (Los Ángeles, CA):

https://fb.watch/jFFyWdsTIJ/?mibextid=qC1gEa

Photo gallery in the Los Angeles Times:

https://www.latimes.com/espanol/entretenimiento/galeria/maya-la-expósito-en-el-california-science-center-de-los-angeles

Photo gallery on this website by Eddie Sakaki and Jesús Alejandro González Córdova