By far, the best thing to do in Guatemala City is the Museo Nacional de Arquelogía y Etnología because it has everything you could want in a Central American Museum. Actually, it has anything that you could want in any museum at all. This museum is famous for containing the largest collection of Mayan artifacts in the world, and man, are they amazing! However, it holds so much more than just that collection. It’s truly a blast into the past.
Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología
This museum was actually created in the late 1800’s when the government began to realize the importance of preserving their ancient culture. Throughout the years, many have contributed to the museum, making it such an amazing collection of historical pieces and a fascinating way to spend an afternoon in Guatemala City.
Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do in Guatemala City:
For those of you that don’t speak Spanish, the museum is an archeology and ethnology museum that centers itself around the study of the Mayan empire. Here’s a quick run-down of all of the reasons why Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología is an AMAZING way to spend your time while you’re visiting Guatemala city.
1. They have the largest collection of Mayan Artifacts in the WORLD
There are literally thousands of artifacts in this building. They range from tiny little arrowheads to HUGE carved stones like the monument that they ran into in the movie “El Dorado.” You could spend hours looking through these artifacts. There is so much history to appreciate here that it is nice to give yourself a little bit of time to look at it.
2. It has real, preserved skeletons
The museum itself contains five different skeletons. Each of them are amazing in their own right. One of them was a skeleton that had melded with the ground, so they cut up the ground and brought it with them. One was a skeleton that was found bone by bone, but was incomplete. And the most heart-breaking, is a skeleton of a mother who died giving birth to her twins. Both twins’ skeletons are laid alongside her.
The skeletons are amazing because they remind you that the Mayans were real people too and experienced death like the rest of us. It’s a cool connection to this past that seems so distant and lost. Maybe the past isn’t so far away from us after all. Either way, these skeletons will both fascinate you and give you the creeps at the same time.
3. They have ancient animal bones too
Besides the bones from human skeletons, there were also prehistoric animal bones at the museum too. I wasn’t expecting to see so much variety in this museum, but it was a pleasant surprise. There was even a wooly mammoth tooth/section of the jaw! How amazing is that? They are HUGE. Like, one tooth was the size of my head. To be honest, I didn’t even know that wooly mammoths had lived in the Central American part of the world. I learned so much from this museum.
4. The Characters are VERY Body-Positive
One of the things that I enjoyed most about the museum was the fact that the Mayans seemed to truly enjoy putting the “human form” in their art. Mayans were incredible sculptors, and because of this, many of their artifacts were preserved and are still around today. The Mayans loved to decorate their temples and homes with sculptures of people. Many of these sculptures displayed a very “body positive” aspect to them, and some of them were just plain weird. These are some of my favorites:
5. They even have historical sports
Again, I’m mentioning “El Dorado.” Personally, I love that movie, and if you haven’t watched it before, you should. In the movie, they play this game where they have to get a ball through a tiny, round stone circle. I thought that this game was completely made up for the movie, but I have been proven wrong! This museum even showcases one of the goals used for the sport. So cool.
El Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología is amazing, especially for history lovers like me. It is one of the best, and most informative, things to do in Guatemala City. It also lets you in on how a relatively secret, ancient civilization once lived.