Guardians of history: National Museum of Anthropology

Guardians of history: National Museum of Anthropology


The old National Museum was located in the heart of the Historic Center, in a viceregal building on Calle de Moneda. It was always a space of interest for all Mexicans who attended to admire the legacy of their ancestors. During the administration of Adolfo López Mateos, Jaime Torres Bodet, promoted the opening of school classrooms and museums. The first materialization of this idea was the History Gallery “The Fight of the Mexican People for their freedom” located in the center of Chapultepec.

The design and general planning of the National Museum of Anthropology are unique in the history of modern architecture in Mexico. A multidisciplinary team of specialists conceived an innovative space, specifically designed to house the most important archaeological and ethnographic collections in the country and in Mesoamerica.

“For the architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, it was important that when Mexicans left this site, they felt proud of their country and its cultural heritage.” In 1965 Mexico participated in the International Architecture Biennial, held in São Paulo, Brazil, with plans and photographs of the museum. The jury awarded him the gold medal for his magnificent performance.

The collection

The Collection of the current Museum of Anthropology has a history that dates back to 1790, the date of the discovery of the monumental sculpture of the Coatlicue during the government of the Viceroy Conde de Revillagigedo, in an exercise of what would later be known as archeology.

The sculpture was found thanks to the leveling work carried out in the Plaza Mayor of the City and, by orders of the Viceroy, it was sent to the University building for safekeeping. In December of that year the Stone of the Sun came to light. Due to the interest in the piece, the authorities of the Cathedral asked the vice-royal government to allow them to install it on the wall of the west tower.

It was from this moment that the interest and care of pieces of pre-Hispanic origin, considered cultural assets since then, is manifested. After the Bourbon Reforms, in 1750, the Colony moved towards a greater obtaining of economic goods to obtain a greater control of the wealth of the Americas. However, a nucleus of colonial society with enlightened ideas begins to emerge, in this way it is that a growing interest in the history and original civilizations of the new territories begins.