We spent almost five hours at the Anthropological Museum today. It truly is one of the greatest museums I have ever experienced, with many artifacts from the various cultures that exist or existed within the borders of today's Mexico: Olmec, Mayan, Toltec, Aztec (they called themselves Mexica), etc.. Interestingly, it chooses not to deal with cultures (such as the Anasazi) of the areas Mexico lost to the USA in the Mexican-American War, except peripherally. James has a few photos here.
It is a beautiful building with a concrete canopy and fountain over the main central courtyard. The day we went was very windy, so the fountain sprayed on people entering the courtyard, which is how one enters all of the galleries on the ground floor. As we walked through it between galleries, a large group of school children were shrieking with delight at the spraying water. I spotted a kid wearing a Washington Redskins jacket in the Aztec gallery, which seemed pretty funny to me.
The display cases are immaculate and more attractive than I have seen in any museum in the USA or Europe. The explanations are very good, and a lot of them are in English and Spanish.
We came back to the hotel for a rest after the Museum, and then took the subway to an art opening downtown. At 9:15 at night, the subways run every 3 minutes or less. Much better than NYC. They cost about 20 cents and are very quiet, with rubber wheels. The system was designed and built by the French. The stations have a lot of marble, and there was an excavated stone alter in a station where we transferred. There were also public art projects in that same station, with a painter actually working on a mural as we walked by. All kinds of people, from workmen in coveralls to students, stopped to look at the art before going down to the platform.
The opening was a show of Finnish artists called "Heavy Snowflakes" ("Pesados Copos de Nieve"), at a space called Ex Teresa Arte Actual. It is in a former church just east of the Catredal Metropolitana. Like much of downtown it is sinking, as the area was once a lake, then filled in by the Spanish. The slanted floors and dark atmosphere (all of the work was slides, video, or light/sculpture installations) lent a funhouse feeling. There was a pretty big crowd there, mostly of people in their 20s. Here is one photo a film we saw there by Jari Haanperä. It dealt with the creation of electronic music, using computers and machines meant originally for science, not art. It contained this great line:
Technology won't take control as long as man can misuse it.
We headed to Café de Tacuba for dinner afterward. We took a taxi home, which can be a stressful experience here. The driver didn't want to use the meter and wanted to charge us more than the meter would have calculated. He turned on the meter once we threatened to get out.
On a happier note, there is a level of elegance and style here which is quite wonderful. Mexicans are also more friendly than any Europeans I have met, and much more tolerant of an American trying to learn their language. I often have people correct me when I butcher a word, rather than insisting (which is sometimes the case in Italy or France) that they have no idea what I'm saying.