Episode 389 – The Museum of the City of Mérida

The Museo de la Ciudad de Mérida is a fairly new museum and gallery, opened in June 2007 in in the former Federal Edificio de Correos (literally”building of mail”) built in 1908.

The building originally housed the Post Offices and Telegraph Offices, as well as those of the Treasury Headquarters and District Court, but eventually only the Post Offices and Telegraph Offices remained.

In its four quite small “salons” on the ground floor it exhibits collections of Mayan, colonial, and contemporary pre-Hispanic pieces and objects.

The first salon focuses on Pre-Hispanic Mérida, and contains pieces related to Mayan culture, the pre-Hispanic city of Th’o or Ichcaanzihó (another name used for the current city of Mérida).

Maybe my favourite sign in the museum. The explanation of why the state is named “Yucatan” made me laugh out loud. It’s very reminiscent of the naming of Canada, based on explorers asking what “this place” was called, and the indigenous people answering in Huron/Iroquois with “ka-na-ta” (my village).
Top: a model of T’ho (the name pf the Mayan city upon which Mérida was built). Bottom: Merida’s main square seen from the same vantage point.
Left: decorative geometric stones from Mayan temples in T’ho. Right: decorative wood and stone pillars from Spanish colonial mansions.

The second salon’s theme is La Colonia or Mérida Novohispana, where
objects related to the foundation of Mérida, education and evangelization, the first Cabildo, defense and armament, and daily life, all illustrate the history of Mérida during colonial times.

Artworks from the early years of colonization depict two very different strategies: evangelism through imagery of Christianity like the polychromatic wooden nativity scene (top), and brutal subjugation of the population by the Spaniards. Notice the size difference between the “conqueror” and the person being trampled, reinforcing who was more “powerful”.

The third salon depicted Mérida in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century with exhibits about the economic boom and development of the city: the henequen haciendas, education, politics, immigration, architecture, society, styles and influences during the 19th and very early 20th century.
Objects and pieces reflecting modern Mérida’s culture, sports, architecture, and traditions are exhibited in the fourth room.

Left: the first floor entry hall is in itself an excellent example of late19th/early 20th century Mérida, with it’s beautiful pasta tile floors, high ceilings, and ornate ironwork reflecting the wealth of the henequen era, when 95% of the wealth in the Yucatan was held by just 30 Méridan families.

On the second floor of the City Museum are both permanent and temporary exhibit rooms where the most representative and current trends in visual arts, through painting, drawing, engraving, photography, sculpture, video and installation are shown.

The current temporary exhibition, entitled “Without Palms or Veils” presents a selection of works produced by Mexican artists Óscar Ortiz Otero and Gildo González Angulo, in a collaboration spanning the years from 1980 to the present. I absolutely loved the weird, colourful, sinuous works by Otera; less the more geometric edged pieces by González. In fact, when we got home and I started looking through Ted’s photos, I realized I hadn’t asked him to photograph a single one of González’ works, so all my memories when I look back here will be of Otero’s.

Top left: Isis in the River. Bottom left: untitled. Right: Persephone. Yes, they’re strange, but also compelling because of the imagery that is revealed when you look closely at them.
One of the galleries, showing the colours of the floor and walls, which perfectly complemented the exhibits.
“Venus”, depicted in both sexes with genitalia covered by a seashell.

Also on the second floor were galleries devoted to works by Fernando Castro Pacheco, the artist responsible for the Governor’s Palace murals. While much smaller in scale, and with much more personal themes, the similarity in style to the murals is obvious. I found it amazing that the addition of waves of colour to essentially simple drawings could add so much emotional depth.

Simple, respectful, interesting depictions of everyday life.
Eroticism and sensuality seen as part of ordinary life. I found these very moving and lovely.
Self portrait, 1984.

These galleries were a welcome surprise. I often find 20th century art “cold”, but these exhibits really inspired me.

On the Museo’s third floor, which is much more of a warehouse space, was an exhibit curated by Arturo Guzmán, of very recent works on the theme of “migration”. Most of the works were by Mexican artists, but there were also contributions from Germany, Israel, and Spain.

Ted particularly liked the second last image, with the barbed wire turning into free birds. I really liked the political commentary in the bottom image, entitled “Dreamers and Sleepers”. The figures with outstretched arms are standing in a passage located right here in Mérida, yet the buildings in the background are in the USA.

Our visit to the Mérida City Museum and galleries was an interesting way to spend a couple of hours during the hottest part of the day, but after touring through our usual lunchtime we “needed” to stop at one of the taco stands on Calle 56.

Four yummy double-wrapped pork tacos with onion, cilantro, lime and 2 different sauces, plus two horchatas (the “large” was the size of a Seven Eleven Big Gulp – I’m drinking the “small” !) came to $108MXN/$7.75 CAD/$5.80USD. Yum.


  1. Love seeing pictures of you And food!

    Paintings and sculptures and FLOORS. So impressive. Sending it to Jennifer Danton. She tries out different techniques. She’ll really appreciate them. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxx


    Liked by 1 person

  2. We haven’t seen this Museum yet so muchas graçias! We will check it out next week when the temp is supposed to be 34! Another one for your list is Museo de Arte Popular. Beautiful display of intricately painted popular art figures, tree of life etc as well as fabric and costumes. On the square at Parque Mejoreda. Buen dia

    Liked by 1 person

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