Visiting the Mayan Museum in Cancun
Cancun is not just hotels and beautiful beaches. The Riviera Maya extends south of Cancun and is named after the civilization of the Mayas. The Mayan Museum (Museo Maya) is dedicated to showing off what made that culture so special.
Update: This museum reopened November 24th after the height of covid.
The Museo Maya is a well done museum that should be on your list of things to see in Cancun if you like learning about the culture. The museum has large exhibition halls and well preserved artifacts from the State of Quintana Roo and a few other ruin sites outside of the area. Most displays are in English and Spanish.
What can you find in the Museo Maya?
The first exhibition room of the museum is dedicated to the archeology of Quintana Roo. It is a chronological tour beginning with the oldest burials found in submerged caves on the coast of Quintana Roo. The timeline continues up to the time when the Spanish conquistadors arrived on the peninsula. The artifacts reflect the development of the culture, the way people were buried, architectural elements, ritual items, and domestic objects used by the Maya of Quintana Roo over two thousand years of history.
The last thing in this room is a map of the conquest, the colonial era and the Caste War that took place during the nineteenth century.
The second exhibit at the Museo Maya
The second room shows:
- General aspects of the Mayan civilization.
- The Mayans relationship with the environment.
- The beginning, development and decline of their cities.
- Their economic activities, from agriculture to trade.
- The characteristics of the ruling class and the wars between them.
- Some of the most important cultural expressions such as writing and the calendar plus some of his rituals such as the ball game.
The pieces exhibited here come from excavations in Quintana Roo, as well as in the rest of the Mexican states that cover the Maya area: Tabasco, Yucatan, Campeche and Chiapas.
The last exhibit hall is dedicated to temporary exhibits relating to the Mayan and Mexican culture. This can include things on loan from other museums around Mexico.
The Mayan ruins of San Miguelito
The small archeological site of San Miguelito (1250-1550 AD) sits on this property. Your entrance to the Museo Maya includes this. The walkway starts from below the museum and winds through gardens to see several settings of buildings.
These ruins are not extensive and hence not that well known. Mainly these were stone structures that had wood and palm roofs. It will take about 25 minutes to walk around.
This site was possible inhabited up until the arrival of the Spanish in the mid 1500’s.
Details for visiting the Mayan Museum
Tuesday-Sunday 9:00am-6:00pm. The last entrance is at 5:30pm but you should get there sooner since there is a lot to see in the museum.
70 pesos per person.
Services at the Museo Maya
- This is a handicap accessible space. There are elevators up to the exhibition halls and ramps.
- No bags are allowed in the museum. Free lockers are available.
- Gift shop.
Where is the Museo Maya?
The museum located at km 16.5 in the Hotel Zone in Cancun. There is a small parking lot with free parking for the museum. If you are not driving here and want to see what public bus routes service this area, consult this interactive map here.
Learning more about the Mayan culture
Cancun is at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula which was a major part of the Mayan area. Today this area is a living museum as well as having relics of the past that were left by the Mayas.
Once you get out of tourist areas you can come across modern day Mayans that speak a form of Mayan and many still dress in traditional styles. In some small communities you can see traditional Mayan houses built from local wood and palapa roofs.
Learn Mayan cooking
Food is always a great way to get to know a culture. Learning about what was available in nature and how people traditionally made food is interesting. Cooking Mayan food is possible at some cooking classes here in the Riviera Maya. See our link here for information.
Towns and cities to visit
There are towns like Valladolid, Merida and Tihosuco where you can experience the living Mayan culture and visit some museums. The Mundo Maya Museum in Merida is especially impressive. It ties together ancient history all the way up to today.
Mayan ruins to visit
Many people look to go to Chichen Itza Mayan ruins but there are dozens of other accessible sites to see. Some of them offer small museums and some you can climb to the top of the pyramids. One set of Mayan ruins is just down the road in the Hotel Zone. The name is El Rey Mayan ruins. See our full guide of Mayan ruins here.
Have you been to the Mayan Museum in Cancun? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.