Steeped in Mayan culture and colonial history, Mérida is the only city to receive the prestigious Cultural Capital of the Americas designation twice. Not surprisingly, this distinction is an attractor for many visitors. Among its many sights, the museums in Mérida Mexico are numerous and diverse while providing education and enlightenment.
- 1 Museums in Mérida Mexico: Everything You Need To Know
- 1.1 Mérida was built on the ancient city of T’ho
- 1.2 European influence brought opulence, grandeur, and sophistication to Mérida
- 1.2.1 Museo Casa Montejo features intricate artistry and furnishings
- 1.2.2 The Governor’s Palace exhibits artwork by Fernando Castro Pacheco
- 1.2.3 Quinta Montes Molina is surrounded by lush gardens and fruit trees
- 1.2.4 Palacio Canton is now the Anthropology Museum
- 1.2.5 Teatro Peón Contreras has Italian neo-classic style
- 1.3 The White City is a showcase for national and international culture
- 1.4 Final thoughts on museums in Mérida, Mexico
Museums in Mérida Mexico: Everything You Need To Know
It’s no surprise that Conde Nast Traveler stated, “Mérida is The World’s Best Small City: a colonial gem in the Yucatan Peninsula with colorful streets, colonial architecture and rich Maya history.”
Make no mistake about it –
Narrow, cobblestone streets, colorful houses, friendly people, and incredible restaurants all combine to add to the charm of the city.
Mérida was built on the ancient city of T’ho
Did you know Mérida was also built on the site of an ancient Maya city called T’ho
which, for centuries, was considered the center of Mayan culture?
In fact, Maya society goes back nearly 2,500 years before the Spanish conquest.
A complex, hieroglyphical writing system, which corresponded with the language, was also developed close to the end of the Pre-Classic Maya period.
Subsequently, some historians consider Mérida the oldest continually occupied city in the Americas. Carved Maya stones from T’ho were used to build the Spanish colonial buildings.
For nearly three millennia, humans have also written history about the Yucatan Peninsula. Their stories feature innumerable peaks and falls, twists, and turns.
Bottom line –
Learning a little of the intense history of the Mayans also definitely adds value to your trip.
Mérida City Museum contains information about T’ho
Mérida City Museum houses a large amount of archeological pieces, from pre-Hispanic to modern times. You’ll also find information about the city of T’ho as well as maps and pictures of early Mérida.
Through interesting and curious exhibits, discover how the streets of Mérida were named and navigated over time.
View a wonderful collection of Mayan pottery, tools, jewelry, and gifts as well as post-colonization paintings, altarpieces, clothing, and weapons.
- Location: Calle 56 #529A x 65 y 65A
- Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
- Admission: Free
Museo de Arte Popular features a variety of folk art
Museo de Arte Popular has curated an incredible variety of art forms.
Indigenous pottery, textiles, embroidery, paintings, and sculpture play an important part in Yucatecan history.
Notably, wonderful folk art representations of some of the mythological traditions and fantastical creatures such as Aluxes and Alebrijes.
- Location: Calle 50A x 57
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
- Admission: Free
European influence brought opulence, grandeur, and sophistication to Mérida
In the early 16th century, Spanish Conquistadors arrived in Mérida.
They were surprised to find a thriving Mayan settlement which was also stunning. Limestone temples and pyramids were similar to the old Roman city of Mérida in mainland Spain.
Furthermore, during the late 19th century, plantation owners also began producing henequen or “green gold” on a mass scale.
At that time, Mérida was home to the greatest concentration of wealth in the world.
The handful of families that controlled the henequen industry sent their children to Europe to study. These 19th-century barons also hired Parisian architects to build the opulent villas along Paseo de Montejo, similar to the Champs-Elysées.
Their fortunes were spent on the finest European furniture, tiles, and crystal for their estate houses, not surprisingly.
Museo Casa Montejo features intricate artistry and furnishings
Museo Casa Montejo is also the only example in Mérida of a Renaissance-style home.
Built in the 16th century by Don Francisco de Montejo, conqueror of the Yucatan Peninsula, the home exhibits intricate artistry in the Spanish Plateresque style.
Incredibly, there are four rooms on permanent display showcase the opulent furnishings of the 19th and 20th centuries in Mexico.
- Location: Calle 63 x Calle 60 y 62
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
- Admission: Free
The Governor’s Palace exhibits artwork by Fernando Castro Pacheco
The Governor’s Palace was also built in 1872 and is home to the Yucatan’s executive government offices and a small tourist office.
What’s more, the artwork on the second floor by the local artist Fernando Castro Pacheco depicts the history of the Mayans and their interaction with the Spanish conquistadors.
- Location: Calle 61 between Calle 60 and 62
- Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 am to early evening
- Admission: Free
Quinta Montes Molina is surrounded by lush gardens and fruit trees
Inside Quinta Montes Molina, you can admire the museum’s European furniture, Carrara marble floors, Baccarat and Murano chandeliers, chime clocks, Art Deco pieces, and porcelain and alabaster sculptures.
Catch your breath when you see the eclectic architecture and neoclassical influence in this house. The museum is surrounded by beautiful gardens and terraces, flowers, and fruit trees.
- Location: Paseo de Montejo #469 x 33 y 35
- Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
- Admission: $80 pesos (approx)
Palacio Canton is now the Anthropology Museum
Palacio Canton reflects the Majestic, French-style architecture. Once the home of General Francisco Canton Rosada, it is now the Anthropology Museum.
One of the rejuvenated palace-style mansions on Paseo de Montejo will also give you a peek into the lavishness prevalent during the henequen heyday.
- Location: Paseo de Montejo #485 x 41 y 43
- Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Admission: $60 pesos (approx)
Teatro Peón Contreras has Italian neo-classic style
Designed by Italian architects the neo-classic style Teatro Peón Contreras is home to the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra.
Changing art exhibitions from Mexico feature contemporary artists of sculpture, photography, painting, and fabric, among other things.
Don’t miss the incredible dome inside the theatre!
- Location: Calle 60 x 57 y 59
- Hours: Daily 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Admission: Free
The White City is a showcase for national and international culture
Haciendas from the 17th to 19th centuries also scatter the area around Mérida. The origin of the hacienda came about after the conquest of Mexico when the Spanish crown distributed land to Spanish noblemen.
Most notably, large haciendas were built and originally functioned as cattle ranches. When the haciendas started to produce henequen profits skyrocketed.
Incredibly, the streets of Mérida and important buildings were also infused with this money, encouraging more people to move to the city.
Today, Mérida is also the cultural and financial capital of the Yucatán; a thriving city of about 1 million people.
In addition to residents of Spanish, French, and British ethnicity, about 60 percent of Mérida’s population is of Maya heritage.
Hacienda Yaxcopoil contains Maya artifacts
Hacienda Yaxcopoil is a maintained henequen plantation located about 20 miles from Mérida.
Along with the Maya artifacts displayed in the museum, you are also able to experience the splendor and grandeur of one of the most important and authentic haciendas during its time.
Known for its size and magnificence, both from livestock and henequen fields, its name in Mayan also means “place of the green aspens”.
- Location: 20 miles (33 km) south of Mérida on Highway 261 to Uxmal at the 220 KM marker
- Hours: Monday – Saturday 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, Sunday 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
- Admission: $100 pesos (approx)
Hacienda Santa Cruz displays an exotic garden with fruit trees
Travel back in time at Hacienda Santa Cruz and also immerse yourself in colonial opulence at its finest.
Moreover, visit the Valentina Restaurant located on the terrace of the old machine house which overlooks the exotic garden featuring palms, orange trees, flamboyant, and other ancient tropical plants.
- Location: 20 minutes from Merida on Calle 86 S/N, Santa Cruz Palomeque, Mérida
- Hours: Daily 7:00 am to 10:00 pm
- Admission: Free but suggested to purchase a drink or a meal.
El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya is one of the new museums in Mérida
Find textiles, religious objects, and various other items that reflected the daily life of the Mayans at El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya – Mayan World Museum.
The extensive collection includes ancient engravings, books, and historical documents. Peruse artistic and religious works from the colonial era.
Look for pre-Hispanic stelae, bas-reliefs, and stone sculptures along with ceramic vessels, gold, jade and shell ornaments, and sumptuary objects.
Picture this . . .
The design of the museum is also magnificently based on Mayan cosmogony and is structured on three levels: sky, earth, and the underworld.
Consequently, the architectural project also pays tribute to the great ceiba tree native to the Maya.
- Location: Calle 60 Norte No. 299E
- Hours: Wednesday – Monday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Admission: $150 pesos
Palacio de la Música pays homage to music from all over Mexico
Palacio de la Música is a state-of-the-art museum with 8 virtual pavilions offer the history of music from all over the country.
Incredibly, the history of Mexican music brilliantly orchestrated through visually stunning interactive displays.
That’s right –
All forms of music from folk, phonograph, concert, big band, cantina, and current music presented in individual settings.
- Location: Calle 58 x 59
- Hours: Daily 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Admission: $150 pesos
Final thoughts on museums in Mérida, Mexico
Let’s recap –
These Mérida Mexico museums are just a few of the many found in and around the city.
Believe it or not, you can also find historical artifacts and architectural elements throughout the city, not just in museums. Really just about everywhere you look, you will find something of historical value.
Over the course of the last 20 years, Mérida has also attracted a small but growing group of artists, collectors, designers, and antique dealers.
They also have brought a sort of creative energy that, along with gastronomic diversity, restored colonial architecture and proximity to incredible beaches, has catapulted Merida into modern times.
Another growing group in Mérida, click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lifeinmerida/
Mérida is also a destination that generates happiness in hearts. Between the bustling sound of the city and the pre-Hispanic and colonial beauty, visit the museums in Mérida Mexico before you return home to complete your experience.
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