The National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) in Mexico City contains the world's largest collection of ancient Mexican art and also has ethnographic exhibits about Mexico's present-day indigenous groups. There is a hall dedicated to each of the cultural regions of Mesoamerica and the ethnological exhibits are located on the second floor. You could easily spend a full day, but you should at least dedicate a few hours to exploring this museum.
The Anthropology Museum is one of our picks for Top Ten Mexico City Sights.
- The Sun Stone or Aztec Calendar
- Recreation of Pakal's tomb in Maya exhibit room
- Jade mask of the Zapotec Bat God in Oaxaca exhibit room
The National Museum of Anthropology has 23 permanent exhibit halls. Archaeology exhibits are located on the ground floor and ethnographic exhibits about present-day indigenous groups in Mexico are on the upper level.
When you enter the museum, the rooms on the right-hand side show the cultures that developed in Central Mexico and are organized in chronological order. Start on the right and make your way around counter-clockwise to get a feel for how the cultures changed over time, culminating in the Mexica (Aztec) exhibit, full of monumental stone sculptures, of which the most famous is the Aztec Calendar, commonly known as the "Sun Stone."
On the left of the entrance are halls devoted to other cultural areas of Mexico. The Oaxaca and Maya rooms are also very impressive.
Several of the rooms have recreations of archaeological scenes: murals in the Teotihuacan exhibit and tombs in the Oaxaca and Maya rooms. This gives the chance to see the pieces in the context in which they were found.
The museum is built around a large courtyard, which is a nice place to sit when you want to take a break. The museum is big and the collection is extensive, so be sure to set aside enough time to do it justice.
Location and Getting There
The museum is located on Avenida Paseo de la Reforma and Calzada Gandhi, in the Colonia Chapultepec Polanco. It is considered to be within Chapultepec Park's Primera Seccion (First Section), though it is just outside the gates of the park (across the street).
Take the metro to either Chapultepec or Auditorio station and follow the signs from there.
The Turibus is also a good option for transportation. There is a stop just outside the museum.
Hours and Admission
The museum is open from 9 am to 7 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.
Admission is 70 pesos, free for seniors over 60 holding an INAPAM card, students and teachers affiliated with a Mexican school, and children under 13. Admission is free on Sundays for Mexican citizens and residents (bring an ID to prove residency).
Services at the National Museum of Anthropology
- Guide Service: There are usually tour guides on site offering their services. Be sure to hire only guides who are recognized by the Mexican Secretary of Tourism - they should be wearing a badge. Agree on a price before hiring.
- Audio Guides: There are audio guides available to rent in Spanish, English and French. The cost is 75 pesos, and you will need to leave a photo I.D.
- Gift shop: The museum's gift shop is located near the entrance and is open from 10 am to 7 pm. A variety of gifts, reproductions of museum pieces, books and magazines are for sale.
- Restaurant: The Anthropology Museum has a good (not inexpensive) restaurant located on the ground floor, open 10 am to 6 pm.
- Coat check: You will not be allowed to bring large bags or packages in to the exhibit area with you, but you may leave them for free in the coat check.