As the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán and home to over 970,000 people, the city of Mérida, just half an hour from Hacienda Petac, is the peninsula’s cultural fulcrum. Long time home to museums, galleries and theaters, the city’s denotation as “Cultural Capital of the Americas” in 2000 worked to further encourage the celebration of Yucatecan history and culture. Below find our guide to some of the most impressive cultural attractions that Mérida has to offer.
1. MACAY (The Contemporary Art Museum Ateneo of Yucatán)
Housed in what was once the city’s armory, this post-colonial collection of art features the permanent exhibits of three local artists, temporary exhibits that change every 3-4 months, and an outdoor sculpture garden. Considered a cultural nucleus of the city, MACAY publishes a newsletter, features both a radio and a television program, and hosts educational workshops for kids throughout the year.
Location: Pasaje de la Revolución entre 58 y 60. Mérida
2. Galería Mérida
The largest private gallery in the city, Galería Mérida was founded by two artists –a Mérida local and an American ex-pat – and is dedicated exclusively to showcasing local contemporary and fine artists.
Location: Calle 59 #452A x 54 y 52, El Centro Histórico, Mérida
3. Mérida City Museum
A beautifully curated, three story museum in what was once the Federal Post Office, the Museo de la Ciudad de Mérida, has four official historians – elected for life – on staff to help guide visitors. Permanent exhibitions, and galleries such as the “Mayan Room” and the “Spanish Conquest Room” display artifacts from throughout the city’s history.
Location: Calle 56 entre Calles 65 & 67, El Centro, Mérida
4. Governor’s Palace
Featuring the work of celebrated Mérida artist Fernando Castro Pacheco, this turn of the century palace tells the often harrowing story of the city’s history through a series of the artist’s murals.
Location: Palacio Gobierno, 61, Centro, Mérida
5. The Yucatan Music Museum
Music, an ever-important part of Yucatecan culture, is celebrated in the Museum de la Canción, through exhibitions, instruments, workshops, and outdoor concerts in the courtyard. The museum is not particularly English-speaking tourist friendly, but when have language barriers ever impeded a person’s love for music?
Location: 57 468, Centro, 97000 Mérida
6. Yucatan Museum of Anthropology
Not only a stunning nod to Baroque-Mannerist architecture from the turn of the century, this museum showcases jewelry, pottery, masks, stone carvings, bones and skulls from the history of man on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Location: Paseo de Montejo and Calle 43, Mérida
7. La Perifería
A little gallery and performance space founded and run by young Yucatecan artists, “The Periphery” is dedicated to the documentation, investigation and promotion of the area’s burgeoning art scene.
Location: Calle 54 #468 entre 53 y 55, Mérida
8. Olimpo Cultural Center
The city’s cultural center, the Olimpo is one part theater, one part museum, and one part planetarium. The historic building – in and of itself a destination – features film festivals, concerts, conferences, and dance performances throughout the year.
Location: Corner of Calle 62 & 61 Centro Historico, Mérida