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Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) to Host Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World

The Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) have announced that the two institutions will host Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World, a remarkable exhibition highlighting the ancient Mesoamerican civilization’s Classic Period (250 to 900 AD) and its notable achievements. As visitors journey into the heart of a great Maya city, many of the mysteries surrounding the Maya are examined and their secrets revealed. In collaboration with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the ROM and the CMC bring together a collection of artifacts, many never-before-seen in Canada, to illuminate the relationships between the Maya civilization’s ruling class and the balance of its society. The exhibition premieres at the ROM from Saturday, November 19, 2011 to Monday, April 9, 2012 prior to traveling to the CMC from May 18 to October 28, 2012.

Jaina reclining figure looking into mirror. Ceramic. Size: 18.5 X 17.2 X 9 cm. Late Classic Period AD 600-800. Photo: © ROM 2011.

Janet Carding, the ROM’s Director and CEO stated, “The ROM is thrilled to present this extraordinary collection of artifacts with the CMC. Bringing together objects from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, its regional museums, the ROM’s own collections, as well as from a number of North American and European institutions, this exhibition reveals some of the greatest artistic and cultural achievements of the Maya civilization. We are grateful to the Government of Mexico for its great collaboration on this exciting endeavour.”

Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, the CMC’s President and CEO said, “The Canadian Museum of Civilization is proud to partner with the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the ROM in presenting this major exhibition on the Maya culture. This important collaboration is a great example of the continuing cultural exchange between our two countries. The CMC looks forward to hosting the exhibition in 2012.”

Among the special guests in attendance at the morning announcement were His Excellency Francisco Javier Barrio Terrazas, Ambassador of Mexico to Canada, who also addressed the gathering, as well as Ambassador Mauricio Toussaint, Consul General of Mexico in Toronto, and Miriam Kaiser, Director of Exhibitions at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

To unveil the mysteries behind the legendary ancient civilization, the exhibition will feature nearly 250 artifacts, including sculptures, ceramics, masks and other precious works, many of which were associated with Maya temples and palaces. Mainly dating to the Maya Classic Period (250 to 900 AD), many of the exhibition’s objects are recognized as among the most important archaeological finds ever discovered.

Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World is the result of an international collaboration between Canada and Mexico. The ROM’s Justin Jennings and the CMC’s Jean-Luc Pilon have joined with two Maya archaeologists from Mexico, Martha Cuevas García and Roberto Lopez Bravo, in curating the show. The exhibition explores life in the royal courts revealing the relationships that connected Maya rulers to each other, their followers, the environment, the cosmos and even the passage of time. Visitors will also learn that unlike other ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs, the Maya civilization was never an “empire” unified by a single governing body. Instead, numerous independent city states, sharing similar traits, practices and beliefs, were all considered Maya. The Maya developed astronomy, as well as a complex calendar system and an elaborate writing system. They were also known for their highly adorned architecture, including temple-pyramids, palaces and observatories.

To complement its historically significant objects, the exhibition will feature numerous other elements, including effective ROM-produced audio-visual components and interactive and creative activities for the whole family. An array of exciting and informative Maya-inspired programs will further engage and inform.

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