Monday, March 7, 2011

Spontaneous Saturday, Trip to the National Museum of Mexican Art

As Rhubarb continues to seek expressions of her art and extile obsession (her mother not minding in the least), we ventured out to the National Museum of Mexican Art on Saturday.  We had not previously been there and highly recommend it.  It is free, first of all, with free street parking as well.  Located in the historic Pilsen district, it is also surrounded by Mexican panaderías (bakeries) and restaurants galore.

We were particularly taken by the temporary exhibit, La Nación Huichol: From the Sea to the Desert.  The Huichol people are considered to be the oldest indigenous society of Mesoamérica.  The Huichol continue to live a very traditional lifestyle, grinding their own cornmeal on a metate y metlapil and creating intricate pieces of art from yarn embedded into beeswax.

It is a most breath-taking vision, a wall filled with squares and squares of intricately designed fiber art.

As Rhubarb is currently learning to weave on a lap loom and has been embroidering for a while, she was also taken by the rugs and garments on display, not just from the Huichol people, but from all over Mexico.

Despite its size (it's small and can be perused in an hour and a half), this museum is a new favorite of mine.  It is also the first museum we have ever visited where one of the kids( Rhubarb) was begging us to slow down and take more time to look at the art and read the historical information.  Because of its size, the museum might work well for smaller children.  It is bright and cheerful with colorful art (one of the current temporary exhibits might be too much for smaller children, though, so you will want to glance through it quickly to decide if your children can handle it).   While there aren't any of the children's rooms so ubiquitous in museums these days, it's a quick enough trip that your kids won't really need one.

Our visit inspired, among other things...

  • our dinner (Mexican)
  • a great deal of inquiry about the colors and details in the art
  • rich discussions on colonialism and the imposition of Catholicism on the indigenous populations of Mesoamérica
  • the viewing of "Man of the Mancha" that evening (wrong continent, but discussions of colonialism led to a conversation about the Spanish Inquisition, which led to the movie)
  • Rhubarb's announcement that she would prefer to live as they do in rural Mexico, complete with the hard work of grinding her own cornmeal, turning her own pots, and growing her own food (I have no doubt of this incidentally -- she is a workhorse)
Watakame's Journey: The Story of the Great Flood and the New WorldFinally, the Museum boasts one of the most beautiful gift shops I have ever seen.  The art is stunning, if a bit expensive.  We did procure a children's book about the legends of the Huichol, called Watákame's Journey: The Story of the Great Flood and the New World.

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