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MUSEUMS IN THE YUCATAN PENINSULA
One would imagine that the Yucatan Peninsula would abound with museums filled with magnificent objects. This is however not the case as years of looting have seen most of the objects found sold to foreign collections or moved to Mexico City. The Mexican government is opposed to this practice and you could end up in jail attempting to smuggle or even purchase antiquities illegally.
Vincent Price, the deceased actor was the worlds leading collector of Mayan antiquities. His collection resides somewhere in the United States. Apparently there is present litigation involving the collection or parts of it.
There is a national consciousness now regarding saving their heritage that has not always been prevalent. In fact a couple of years ago [in Chiapas] armed locals approached a science team when they attempted to move a stela from a remote site. The locals laid claim to the stela and the scientists who were taking the stela to the national museum in Mexico City were forced to flee for their lives.
What does exist is worth seeing and the museums are by no means something to miss. Simply by visiting you are expressing your interest and your admission fee goes towards supporting the efforts of the museums, always strapped for money.
The majority of information signs at the museums is in Spanish with very little English.
Merida has 2 museums to visit and a zoo that contains 3 specimens of the Yucatan Rattle Snake. If you stay downtown near the main-square you are within walking distance to all 3 locations.
CHICHEN ITZA MUSEUM
Xcaret has a number of models of ruin sites, which gives you a good vantage point to see the layouts as opposed to a map. There is also a recreation of a Mayan family residence on a stream which you swim by and view the habitation from the water. This is a lot of fun. Xcaret is located in the Maya Riviera between Tulum and Playa del Carmen.
There are 2 museums in Campeche. One is right at the main-square of Campeche City. It contains a large number of steleas. There is no sign at the entrance indicating there is a museum there and you have to either simply stumble in or know it is there. The second museum is a short distance away [4-km] but is cumbersome to get to. The best thing to do is to take a taxi, there and back. There is also a small display of model Spanish ships and a dungeon located in the most southern baluarte on the coast, which is a 10-minute walk from the main-square.
There is an interesting museum in Chetumal. It is high-tech and contains a number of computer based multimedia exhibits. There are also a number of excellent models of temples and buildings.