ROM exhibit excavates an enigma Bodi Bold
A civilization with more mystery than history, the Maya finally get their due in the ROM’s latest collection, Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World, opening to the public this Friday.

The exhibit is a joint effort of the ROM, the National Institute of Anthropology and History, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It boasts almost 250 artifacts, aimed at shining a light on the delicate dynamics between the Maya ruling class and the rest of its society through items that would have permeated the culture's customs daily rituals.

The ROM is really going all out for this featured exhibit; creating a special Maya-inspired menu at c5 and their food studio space. The museum has also organized a monthly lecture series (cost is $23 per lecture), sure to be of interest for those truly interested in Maya discoveries.

The exhibit itself is presented in a very sanitized, perhaps overly generic way, despite the hype around new artifacts from the lost city of Palenque. Some mock stone walls and often dim lighting, presumably intended to create the ambiance of being in a Maya temple, don’t really do much for effect. Some videos of lush landscapes were projected on the walls, including an interesting Maya countdown calendar, but all in all, that component is lackluster.

However, if the Maya prediction of our doomsday is really fast approaching on December 21, 2012, I would not plan to spend too much of my free time in this exhibition. A huge space for what felt like relatively few pieces, let alone pieces of visual interest, the secrets of this ancient world are not as exciting as one would have hoped, at least not in the way they were presented. Few pieces stand out as engaging, independently of a detailed pre-knowledge of the history of the subject matter, as the descriptions of the artifacts are too bland to inspire genuine new interest.

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: Maya exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, not one for the ages
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