Forgotten Centro museum has had no visitors since January

Pinacoteca Juan Gamboa Guzmán is one of 8 across Mexico virtually ignored by the public since January

A museum in the heart of the Centro has had no visitors for months. Photo: Courtesy
A museum in the heart of the Centro has had no visitors for months. Photo: Courtesy

Merida, Yucatan — A museum in a prime Centro location has been virtually ignored by the public for months.

You can’t blame the location. It’s flanked by the busy, historic Church of the Third Order and the modern Music Palace. But the understated Pinacoteca Juan Gamboa Guzmán has had no visitors since the beginning of the year.

Zero. None. Nadie.

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No one has paid 45 pesos to pass through its double doors on Calle 57 to see the portrait gallery or the collection of bronze busts of historic figures.

The cultural site is not alone. It is actually one of several the El Universal reports has had absolutely no visitors in six months or longer.

“For many Mexicans, museums are unmissable destinations when traveling to Europe, although several have never been attracted to the local cultural heritage,” El Universal explains.

As in the rest of Latin America, many history and art museums in Mexico have not been trodden by a single visitor in years.

The reasons are diverse, but experts emphasize the gradual reduction of budgets for the operation, promotion, conservation and restoration of museums, the advancement of technology and general apathy about history.

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Mexico has 162 museums open to the public under the auspices of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Sites dwell on national or state history, or that reinforce knowledge about a locality or an important archaeological site.

The other seven overlooked museum, devoid of even one visitor between January and May, are:

  • The Museum of Underwater Archeology in Campeche and its mostly pre-Hispanic collection including a funerary jadeite mask from the tombs of the Divine Lords of Calakmul
  • The Museum of La Francia Chiquita in Guanajuato, former home of independence hero Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
  • Casa de Morelos, also a former Hidalgo home
  • The Santiago Baluarte Museumin Veracruz and its Jewels of the Fisherman, an archaeological collection consisting of 42 pieces and pre-Columbian gold ingots
  • The Archaeological Museum of Soconusco, in Chiapas, which displays monoliths and steles from the archaeological site of Izapa, an important civic and religious center built 1,500 years before Christ
  • Two museums in Huaquechula, Puebla, the former Convent of San Francisco and the House of Palestine, whose structures were damaged by the earthquakes of September 2017

Gerardo Herrera, a specialist in tourism at the Universidad Iberoamericana, explains that museums, like any other product, should be promoted.

“What is not shown, does not sell. If this applies to a beach resort, it applies with more reason for museums,” he said.

He explained that culture is a very difficult product to sell in Mexico, but it would not be so difficult to offer it to foreign visitors curious about Latin American history.

“An important opportunity is being wasted, because museums can attract more sophisticated and educated tourists, instead of spring breakers,” he said.

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Source: El Universal

To visit Pinacoteca Juan Gamboa Guzmán

WHERE: Calle 59, between 60 and 58, Centro de Merida
Contact: 999-924-5233; alejandro_bernal@inah.gob.mx

WHAT: Paintings made during the viceroyalty, mainly of bishops and saints and a gallery of portraits of rulers and prominent 19th century men in Yucatan. Also, paintings and personal objects from Juan Gamboa Guzmán (1853-1892) and a space dedicated to the satirical engraver Picheta, whose real name was Gabriel Vicente Gahona Pasos (1828-1899). The “bronze Mayas” by Austrian sculptor Enrique Gottdiener (1909-1986), portray rural Yucatecans in the middle of the 20th century.

SCHEDULE: Tuesday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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PRICE: General admission: 45 pesos. Sundays: free entry. 
Teachers, students, children under 13 and INAPAM: free admission.

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