New Canadian Exhibit Showcases the Complexities of Mayan Culture

Tablet of Warriors from Temple XVII was recently excavated and on display at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Despite being a renowned ancient culture of Mesoamerica, the Mayan civilization remains full of mysteries. A recent exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, “Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World,” aims to educate visitors about various aspects of the civilization and break down popular misconceptions associated with the ancient people. Curators hope that visitors will experience Mayan society through an exhibit that is structured like a guided tour. Visitors have the opportunity to touch reproductions or models, immerse themselves through videos or animations, and view rare artifacts like the recently excavated Tablet of the Warriors from Temple XVII. Many of these artifacts have never been on display in Canada.

A part of the exhibit focuses on the notorious Mayan calendar, which ends in the year 2012. The calendar has sparked a great deal of interest, as many believe it points to an ominous “end of the world.” The exhibit intends to debunk this idea and reaffirm that the year, 2012, is simply the end of a cycle, bearing no connection to the apocalypse.  Additionally, the exhibit seeks to show that the Mayans were not always as peace loving of a people as many believe and highlight the complexity of their culture.

Museum exhibitions such as “Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World” are means of bridging the gap between the past and the present. Not only are they educational, but they also often remind visitors that there is still much to learn from our ancestors. Contemporary society is constantly looking toward the innovations of the future in order to build sustainable communities. However, by looking back at the communities built by ancient civilizations, the contemporary world can learn the tools needed to create, organize, and sustain society. Through “Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World,” visitors can gain an accurate account of Mayan culture and learn from the remarkable society these people were able to establish.

Here is the link to the exhibit page and video:

Wong, Jessica. “Maya Exhibit Busts Myths amid Tour of Ancient World.” CBC News, 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

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4 Responses to New Canadian Exhibit Showcases the Complexities of Mayan Culture

  1. afhowarth says:

    I am so glad that some reliable source is finally tackling this 2012 -end-of-the-world myth. I hope that visitors to the Royal Ontario Museum will gain some piece of mind knowing that the Mayans did not intend to send our supremely advanced world spinning into a panic. The timing of this exhibit correlates wonderfully with the sensationalized misinformation and I hope that it will convince more people to check out the exhibit and broaden their views of the Mayan culture. I wish I could go.

  2. mksteuer says:

    The exhibit seems extremely educational and interesting with it’s particular set up of reproductions, videos, animations and ancient objects. It is great that the Mayan culture is being presented in an accurate way, including an explanation of the Mayan calendar, whose cycle will end in 2012. Quite a bit of gossip and popular press about the end of the world has been circulating in the past few years, often based on inaccurate representations of the Mayan calendar. I am glad that museums are trying to clarify the real meaning of the calendar. Overall, the museum’s exhibit is a great way to spread accurate knowledge of an important civilization from our past.

  3. zadawi says:

    The Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibition of “Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World” sounds extraordinary. The application of immersion is a powerful tool for education and understanding, especially for the arts and for cultural studies. Visitors have so many opportunities to experience the Mayan culture through this exhibit. Not only can they immerse themselves through videos and animations, but they also have the ability to see rare artifacts. I love that visitors can touch reproductions and models of ancient Mayan artifacts. I think having the tangible experience furthers the immersion into what was the Mayan civilization, promoting education and appreciation for their culture. I think this type/strategy of exhibition is a great idea!

  4. ljhong says:

    Artifacts provide us with great insight into the lives of the people and cultures of the past. However, it’s so easy for conclusions to be made that certain objects hold one significance when in reality it does not mean that at all, just like the Mayan culture has been misconstrued. Thus, it is important to study the art of ancient worlds and in general with an open objective mind so we don’t put meanings to things or draw conclusions based on what would best fit into the mold of what we assume.

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