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Museum Exhibit Offers a Glance into Mexico's Past

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The Arizona State Museum recently opened a new exhibit that showcases many pieces of Mexico's past as well as some its history of border relations with the United States.

"Many Mexicos" was started in November 2010 to commemorate the bicentennial of Mexico's independence from Spain in 1810, and the centennial of the Mexican revolution of 1910. The museum is located on the University of Arizona's campus and will host the exhibit through November 2012.

The exhibition's displays include numerous ancient pieces of pottery and jewelry, statues and figurines from hundreds of years ago, common items such as pendants and even a mosaic mirror.  It begins with antique pieces from various tribes such as the Maya, Hohokam, and Aztec, and progresses to more contemporary items such as a uniform worn by Comanche War Chief Santa Anna. 

"It's very compelling," said Dr. Michael Brescia, a curator at the museum who helped to establish the exhibition. "I knew Mexico as a country was about to celebrate the bicentennial of its independence from Spain. I asked my colleagues, 'What are we going to do to commemorate this?' I wanted to do an exhibit . . . that shows the sweep of Mexican history."

The history of the border region between Mexico and the U.S. is also addressed in the museum's historical portrayal, with information about events like the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on display for visitors to view. 

"The U.S. and Mexican border didn't always exist," said Dr. Brescia. "The Treaty of Guadalupe and the Gadsden Purchase solidified the border." He also noted that for the month of February 2011, the museum will be displaying some of the original pages of the Treaty of Guadalupe within its collection.

Kyle Phillips, a student at the UA, found the exhibit very informative. "It's pretty interesting and very inclusive on a lot of different aspects," he said. "I'm an anthropology major, so I really appreciate it."

Many of the pieces in the collection have been loaned through organizations such as the Amerind Foundation, which specializes in Native American history. Other pieces have come from local lenders such as Gloria Giffords, the mother of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

"Gabby Giffords' mom, Gloria, loaned a number of pieces," said Diane Dittemore, an ethnological collections curator at the museum. "She's a serious scholar on the arts. She was the main private lender."

Dittemore says that they had only a limited amount of space in which to share with visitors an expansive history of an entire nation. "It's hard to tell a huge contemporary story in a small gallery," she said.

"We have a large collection of folk art and archaeological works . . . we're trying hard to tell a story that no one else can tell."

Further information about "Many Mexicos," as well as other exhibitions offered at the Arizona State Museum, is available here.

Written by Kayla Lema You are reading Museum Exhibit Offers a Glance into Mexico's Past articles

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