MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We are just a couple of days away from the opening of a huge new exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
It’s all about the ancient Maya, people who lived in places like southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador centuries ago.
Some 300 objects are in this exhibit. It’s the largest traveling exhibit the museum has ever built, and it’s also the most complex collection of artifacts of the Maya ever put together.
The ancient items include artwork and tools, and they demonstrate the amazing skills the Maya people had long before anyone else in the world.
“They are fairly well-renowned, I think, to some people for their pyramids and the cities that have been abandoned and disappeared into the jungle, so there is a certain mystique that goes along with the Maya,” said Dr. Ed Fleming, an archaeologist with the University of Minnesota.
Fleming is overseeing the installation of some of the rare objects, such as those found inside an ancient tomb.
“The government of Belize has released to us their Maya artifacts, their Maya treasures, and for the first time these artifacts are coming out of Central America,” said Mike Day, the museum’s senior vice president.
The exhibit covers 15,000 square feet.
As a visitor, one of the first things you will notice is the sheer size of some of the replicas.
“There are many objects that you have to see. One is a stone statue of a ruler, a statue created from a variety of pieces. It was found in rubble and reassembled for this exhibit, never been on display before,” Fleming said.
Day added that the Maya underworld is a must see.
“The underworld,which was entered into through caves, was an important part of the Maya world, so we have recreated those caves so you get the sense of what it’s like to go down into those caves,” he said.
And there’s also a conch shell inkwell found in 2010.
“One of the most remarkable things about this is that the ink is still in it,” Fleming said. “You can see the black ink, you can see the blue ink, you can see the red ink.”
There’s a movie about the Maya you can watch in the theater before you walk through the exhibit. But you will also find several videos within some of the displays, and some interactive exhibits as well.
You will see lots of detailed information in writing, both in English and Spanish within each of the sections. And you’ll notice some of the subtle things like special lighting and sound effects.
The exhibit opens Friday and will be there until early January.