Hall of Mexico and Central America
If you are coming to the Museum on Saturday, May 25, please use one of the following entrances: 79th Street and Central Park West, subway entrance, or Weston Pavilion (Columbus Avenue entrance). The 81st Street entrance will be closed, but the Hayden Planetarium Space Show will be shown on a normal schedule.
The Hall of Mexico and Central America features the diverse art, architecture, and traditions of Mesoamerican pre-Columbian cultures through artifacts that span from 1200 BC to the early 1500s.
On display are collections of monuments, figurines, pottery, and jewelry from the Maya, Toltec, Olmec, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican cultures, which offer clues about the political and religious symbols, social characteristics, and artistic traditions of the respective groups.
Works on view in this hall include ninth-century Mayan stone carvings that depict warrior-lords bearing weapons. These carvings offer invaluable insights into the ancient Mayan civilization, a collection of independent city-states that alternately warred and traded with each other. Another remarkable artifact is a 3,000-year-old jade sculpture known as the Kunz Axe. Made from one of the most precious materials in the region, the part-human, part-jaguar figure is one of the largest jade objects ever found in Mesoamerica.
Carved from a single piece of porphyry, the Sun Stone weighs more than 20 tons. The most famous of Aztec monuments, the Sun Stone is commonly known as the Calendar Stone. All of its symbols relate to the Sun and highlight the Sun's role in Aztec belief and religion.
Discoveries of people using gold in South America date back to 1600 BC. The use of gold spread upward to Central America by 200 to 400 AD. Around 800 AD, the Mixtec learned the craft and became goldsmiths for the Aztec.
Between 1200 and 400 BC, artifacts of stunning complexity were created by people in many parts of Mesoamerica. This jade sculpture, called the Kunz Axe, is carved in Olmec style, although it was reportedly found in the southern highland Valley of Oaxaca.