UPDATE: the museum was closed temporarily after the September 2017 earthquake, but as of July 23, 2018, it is again open to the public. (Photos are by the author unless otherwise noted. Click on them to enlarge)
Cuernavaca’s cultural life received a momentous boost when a sensational new museum opened to the pubic on Avenida Morelos 275, next door to the church of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. The Museo de Arte Indígena Contemporáneo is a project of the Patronato Universitario of the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, UAEM for its initials in Spanish. Both the building and its contents are magnificent.
The eclectic collection includes ceramics, textiles, musical instruments, wood work, silver, and other metal work, displayed in well-lit galleries on the lower floor. Many of these pieces are truly exquisite, well beyond anything one sees in a handicraft market. Visitors will follow a circuit of galleries displaying artistic creations whose themes progress from representations of sunrise, birth, daily life, and agriculture, to those representing death and the afterlife, following indigenous religious traditions. While the museum’s pieces are not for sale, there is a small shop off the lobby featuring beautiful handicrafts made by local artists.
The second floor houses offices, class rooms, an auditorium, and workshops where master artisans will teach groups of ten to fifteen participants. A lovely terrace in back hosts a coffee shop with light snacks and a view of Jardín Borda. A small alcove once opened to the Guadalupe church to allow access to 17th century Inquisitors whose offices adjoined the church and where the unfortunate accused were questioned and judged.
While not on the university’s campus in the north of the city, the building has historical links to UAEM. In 1953 the university took over the former Instituto de Estudios Superiores and it became the first home of UAEM. The second floor was added that year. The lower floor is protected by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the upper floor by the National Insitutute of Bellas Artes (INBA) while seeking an international designation under UNESCO. Professionals from INAH have unearthed nine different levels of occupation for the building and an opening on the second level displays seven of those levels. How altogether fitting that the museum is in the midst of a block that contains volumes of the city’s history, built upon the ruins of an indigenous culture whose heritage is now enshrined in the museum. Below are photos of some of the works on display.
Distinguished UAEM administrator Wilifrido Ávila García is the Director responsible for carrying out the inspiration and implementing the expectations of the Patronato. The museum hosts group visits and special events, public lectures, and concerts. Each change in exhibits will open with a ceremony including music or dance. What a magnificent addition to the cultural life of Cuernavaca!
Hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm, closed Monday. Admission charge 25 pesos; students and faculty of UAEM free. Tel. 310 5700/ 310 5701. Facebook material is being updated.
If you would like to receive automatic notice of new posts on this blog, click the link “Follow” (or “Seguir” if you have the Spanish version) and enter your email address.