Mexico City is paradise for history buffs but regardless of your age or interests, the one place you must visit while there is the National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologica). It’s home to the world’s largest collections of archaeological and anthropological artifacts from pre-Hispanic Mayan civilizations to the Spanish conquest. It’s the most visited museum in the entire country.
Kids seem to find the gory aspects of Aztec and Mayan history intriguing and resonate to a lot of the animal carvings and religious symbolism around the sun and the moon that can be seen here. Plus, it’s awesome to know they’ll open the pages of a school textbook someday and see these artifacts on the pages, if they haven’t already.
Significant Archeological & Anthropological Finds = Kid Cool
Above, my daughter is standing next to the Aztec calendar of the sun or Piedra del Sol which was excavated in the Zocala area of Mexico City in 1790. This is one of my favorite Instagram photos to date.
At 12 feet wide, not only is it massive but the attention to detail is staggering considering its age. Experts believe this stone shows that Aztecs did have some knowledge of geometry based on the carvings. In the middle of the stone calendar is the Aztec god of the sun while some of the glyphs or carvings on the outside represent months.
People come here just to see this because it’s so historically significant. It’s in a room full of amazing pieces–in total, there are over 600,000 artifacts in the museum. Here is another that I Instagrammed.
Not a history buff? Tour it with an audio guide. A self-tour is easy because it’s laid out in a circular format divided up into salons. Each salon showcases a different region or culture including Teotihuacan, Toltec, Aztec, Mixtec, Zapotec, Olmec, and Maya. A courtyard in the middle of the museum showcases a giant umbrella cascading water down the sides.
Fortunately, we don’t need a guide a places like this. My husband was a history major at Harvard, has a photographic memory (unless it’s chore-related, then forget it) and is an animated storyteller. But even without him, my daughter would have loved it here with all of the stone animal-like statues and colorful murals. We came on a weekday when there were tons of school children seated in various salons enthusiastically scribbling notes as a docent spoke. How lucky they are.
Fabulous Location And Other Details
With a young child in tow, an hour or two is all you need. The National Museum of Anthropology is located in gorgeous Chapultepec Park just a few minutes walk from the zoo and about a 20-minute walk from Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F. where we stayed.
On Sundays, museums are free to residents so avoid any museum (if possible) on this day because they are crowded. On Mondays, the museum is closed, as are most of the museums in town. Plan your visit to Mexico City around these days, however, on Mondays, Teotihuacan is still open so you can take a half-day or day trip out there.
Bottom Line: Go
This is easily one of the best museums in the world we’ve visited yet and probably will ever visit. It’s a perfect size with excellent flow and high value, historically important exhibits lining every single room. My 5-year-old was engaged the entire time which surprised me—a lot.
National Museum of Anthropology
(Museo Nacional de Antropologia)
Avenida Paseo de la Reforma
Mexico City 11560