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The Grand-daddy of Mexico City Museums? National Anthropology Museum

Which city in the world has more museums than any other city?

(Hint – it’s not Paris.)

It’s Mexico City.

And the grand-daddy of all the city’s museums is the world-class National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City (Museo Nacional de Antropologia or MNA).

National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

Mexico City museums

Exhibit at National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

This may come as a surprise, given all the history and culture in Europe.

But Mexico is rich in history and culture too.

Whether Mexico City does indeed have the most number of museums is irrelevant.

The fact is there’s an astounding collection of top-notch Mexico city museums – more than 150 museums!

We thought we’d seen some pretty quirky museums in Mexico’s colonial cities – like the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato and the whimsical Toy Museum in San Miguel de Allende.

In Mexico City, however, there are museums to suit every intellectual fancy, from shoe to cartoon museums, even a pen museum.

The top museum is the National Museum of Anthropology. And visiting it is something you must do!

Highlights of the National Anthropology Museum, Mexico City

National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

Very modern in design, the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City tells the story of Mexico’s pre-Columbian past, from before the Mayan civilization through to the Aztecs and the Spanish conquest.

Built around a courtyard, it’s huge (20 acres in size) and has 23 exhibit halls.

The most famous exhibit is the 24-ton Aztec Calendar or “Sun Stone” (almost 12 feet in diameter).

The Sun Stone at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

We could only allow a half-day here at the Mexico City Anthropology Museum. (There was much more we also wanted to see in Mexico City!)

So we concentrated our visit on the most significant displays – the Teotihuacan, Maya and Aztec exhibit halls.

It was particularly interesting to learn more about the difference between the Aztec and Maya civilizations.

Mayans vs Aztecs

The Mayans:

They came first, starting around 2,500 B.C.

They lived mainly in the Yucatan Peninsula and flourished between 200 and 900 A.D (building the cities of Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza).

The Aztecs:

They came later and founded Mexico City (then known as Tenochtitlan) on an island on Lake Texcoco in 1325 A.D.

The Spanish eventually conquered them in 1521.

Exhibits at this Mexico City anthropology museum

If you visit Mexico City, don’t miss the National Museum of Anthropology.

It’s one of the best museums we’ve seen.

Photos of the Mexico National Museum of Anthropology

Here are a few more photos of the cultural exhibits we saw:

National Museum of Anthropology Sculpture
Mask at National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico
National Museum of Anthropology Exhibit
Sculpture at National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
Mayan ball hoop
Mexico National Museum of Anthropology statue
National Anthropology Museum Mexico Exhibit
The National Museum of Anthropology is one of the best museums in Mexico City
Mexico National Anthropology Museum Exhibit

Visiting the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

Hours: The National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City, is open every day, except Monday, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Cost: 63 MX pesos (or about $5 USD).

Tip: If time is short, head directly to the Teotihuacan, Maya and Aztec exhibit halls.

More information: See the museum’s website.

Experience more of Mexico!

Read our posts on:

San Miguel de Allende | From browsing art galleries to digging the plants at the botanical gardens, these are the top things to do in San Miguel de Allende!

Guadalajara’s hot art | Jose Clemente Orozco sure knew how to paint! Check out the fiery Orozco murals in Guadalajara.

Morelia | We love that the colonial city of Morelia is so authentic and non-touristy. (Its candy market is pretty sweet too.)

Photo credits: © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase (except 1)

About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!


Tuesday 19th of January 2016

I have never been to Mexico, but whenever I will go there the National Museum of Anthropology will be a top place to go. Thank you very much for the inspiring photos! Please allow me to share this wonderful post in my streams

Rachel Heller

Sunday 17th of January 2016

I've never been to Mexico City (other than changing flights), but I never would have guessed it has so many museums! When I do go I'll plan lots of time there. I'm impressed by your ability to get such good pictures in a museum; mine rarely come out good!

Janice and George

Sunday 17th of January 2016

Gee, thanks for the photo appreciation! Let us tell you, we took HUNDREDS of pics inside the museum. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time afterwards going delete, delete, delete.

Gonzo Stu

Thursday 14th of January 2016

I've been in DF for a few months now and for some crazy reason not checked the Anthropology museum out yet, thanks for the post, I love the Aztec and Mayan culture and you've inspired me to take a trip to the museum. Thank you!


Sunday 3rd of January 2016

Mexico City is a fascinating place and you're right about all the museums (most all in Chapultepek Park). We missed this park, I had visited with my mom and she had more of an interest in the Modern Art musuem next door. I want to go back to Mexico City and the Anthropology museum is for sure on my list.

Hope you also took the hop on/hop off bus? I have to admit I had many misconceptions about the city and was blown away by all the modern architecture and large avenues.

Janice and George

Friday 8th of January 2016

It's hard to see all the top museums in Mexico City in a limited visit :-). There are a couple of new art museums we want to see next. And, no, we didn't take the hop on/hop off bus - but we should have! We ended up walking and walking and walking everywhere. We had very tired feet at the end of most days :-).


Saturday 2nd of January 2016

We may be visiting Mexico this year so this museum will be top of our list - amazing how advanced the Mayan civilization was

Janice and George

Saturday 2nd of January 2016

This museum is definitely worth a visit. Hopefully you can also visit one of Mexico's colonial towns too - like Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende :-).