Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 14 Mérida (10 kilometers?)

I was going to give myself a day off to settle in but I was so close to several great beaches (Progreso, Celestun) a bunch of amazing Archeological sites (Chichén-Itza, Dzibilchaltun, Mayapan, Oxkintok, Xlapak, etc.).  So what did I decide to do with so much to choose from?  

Hit the museums in Mérida naturally.

I mapped out a nice path that took me throughout the city, so I could get accustom to it, and would take me to Museo de Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan (Yucatan Museum of Contemporary Art)Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatan (Yucatan Museum of Popular Art), and Museo de Antropología e Historia de Mérida (Anthropology and History Museum of Mérida).  I was very excited and was waiting at the entrance of my first destination before it opened.

I first went to the MACAY, arrived around 9:30 but it opened at 10m.  It gave me some time to sit and enjoy the grand plaza in the city center and do some writing.  When it opened up I was the first one in and had the place all too myself, on top of that admission was free.  It is a beautiful location for a museum and it was interesting seeing how the building, which was originally built as part of  the Chapel next to it and later became a seminary, was reappropriated as a museum.  The large courtyard space and room construction/dispersement were unique for a museum and probably would not have existed as such in a purposeful design of a museum.

My favorite exhibits were those by José Luis Bustamante "Signo y Espíritu", Ulises Castro "Perseverancias", and Colectivo Kool Aid "Comprevise Appropriation".  Here are a few excerpts, two of each respectively.  See the rest here.

Next I was off to the Yucatan Museum of Popular Art.  I ended up falling in love with the building more so than any of the art it housed.  The house was built in 1900 for Carmela Molina, and is called Casa Molina, as a wedding gift from her father, Olegario Molina Solis. The house was designed by Italian architect Enrico Deserti and its construction was under the care of engineer Manuel Cantón Ramos.

The thing I love the most about the construction is the doors.  They can be used in so many configurations and they are beautiful.  They have four panels which can fold away into the jamb to create an open walk-through.  The panels can be locked, two to each side, to work as a traditional door would.  Each of the interior panels has fixed venetian wood blinds which are backed by a hinged wood panel which can be moved to allow for air to pass though easily.  The exterior panels are etched glass and also backed by a hinged wood panel which can be moved to allow for more light to come into the room.  Quite beautiful, and I took many pictures for future reference.  I want these doors if I ever own a house.

Aside from the doors the tile work and crown was very interesting.  There was also some interesting ceramic, textile, and instrument exhibits.  See the pictures, along with more pictures of the doors, here.

Last but not least was the Anthropology and History Museum of Mérida.  Again the building itself stole a bit of the show for me.  The building combines Classic, Neo-Classic, and French Baroque details. It is known as known as the Palacio del General Cantón  as it was was built in the early 1900s by, then governor of Yucatan, Francisco Cantón, . He lived there until his death, and in 1959 it was renovated as the museum.  The location houses many of the artifacts excavated at the archeological sites throughout the Yucatan.

The bottom floor is dedicated to anthropology while the top floor, reached by climbing a magnificently carved marble staircase, houses the historical aspect of the museum which had an exhibit on the Mexican revolution when I visited.  Here are a few teasers, see the rest here:

After all that, I was very happy with my first full day in Mérida.  And with the museums visited I could start planning some day trips to some locations outside of the city.

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