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Mexico City's "El Caracol" Gallery of History Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary    
El Caracol” Gallery of History was inaugurated on November 1st 1960, and is integrated by 12 halls that narrate the life in Mexico. Photo: DMC INAH. H. MONTANO.

MEXICO CITY.- With a photographic exhibition from the architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, a round table discussion and the publication of a commemorative leaflet, “El Caracol” Gallery of History will celebrate on November 26th 2010 its first 50 years of being one of the most visited precincts by youngsters.

After the first month of its creation, the Gallery of History had already received 3,000 visitors, driven by the curiosity of knowing the proposal of an avant-garde museum that recounted Mexican history through models and dioramas conceived as theatrical elements that changed the museographic panorama at the time.

Since then, the precinct also known as “El Caracol” Museum due to its architecture, is still one of the most visited spaces of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) Museums network, occupying the fourth place at the national level, just after the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA), the National Museum of History (MNH) and the Templo Mayor Museum.

Patricia Torres, director of El Caracol Gallery, pointed out that although there are new technologies and fourth generation museums, the Gallery of History is still valid because, on the educational level, it is a basic spot for the visit of student groups.

She recalled that the museum was created in the 1960’s by the initiative of Jaime Torres Bodet, then secretary of Public Education, under the concepts of the basic education texts, with the intention of serving both as introduction and orientation for the students before their visit to the adjacent National Museum of History at the Castle of Chapultepec.

The museum was designed by architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, but it was conceived jointly by an interdisciplinary team integrated by Arturo Arnaiz y Freg, designer of the museographic script; scenographer Julio Prieto, museographer Iker Larrauri, model designer Mario Cirett and many craftsmen and art students.

According to Iker Larrauri -pointed out Torres-, the conception of museums was very traditional in those years; it was thought that museums needed collections since they were heritage and testimony of the past; “to conceive and create its own collection was a different approach to the idea of a museum; this concept changed after the El Caracol Gallery experience, now we have museums without collections”.

Torres mentioned that the Gallery of History was conceived as an integral project, with innovative architecture, museography and an educational offer that included models and dioramas; this proposal became a precedent for all museums in Mexico, and is still a one-of-a-kind space.

The director of the Gallery mentioned that dioramas and models constitute a historical heap because they are 50 years old. Figures are made out of terracotta, while scenarios were crafted with wood and plastic; they have interior illumination and a sound system that allows hearing the dramatized narration of historical events, which are very attractive for children and young people.

Patricia Torres announced that as part of commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Gallery of History, a photographic exhibition is to be inaugurated, which gathers 45 images, most of them from Ramirez Vazquez Collection, capturing moments of the construction of the building and the montage of the permanent display.

On Saturday December 4th, a round table discussion “How to know, learn and enjoy our history”, where specialists in educative services will tackle the origin of educative proposals of INAH museums, as well as museology, educative paradigms and the possibilities to educate at the museum.

“El Caracol” Gallery of History was inaugurated on November 1st 1960, and is integrated by 12 halls that narrate the life in Mexico from the end of the Viceroyal period to the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution. The museum is located at the Access to “Castillo de Chapultepec” National Museum of History (MNH), in the Chapultepec Park. It is open from 9 to 16 hours from Tuesday to Sunday.

"El Caracol" Gallery of History | Mexico | National Institute of Anthropology and History | Patricia Torres |

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