Austin Side Trip: Mexic-Arte Museum

In downtown Austin, the doors to the Mexic-Arte Museum opened and we walked into the well-stocked gift shop, with all sorts of Mexican souvenirs from Selena to Frida Kahlo. Paying the admission fee, we entered the museum, which is Texas’ official museum on Mexican culture.

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As it was October, the museum focused on Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead in English. Although most people in Texas know about this, many other Americans might not be familiar with Day of the Dead, a celebration in Mexico that blends Aztec tradition and Catholic rituals brought by the Spanish. On the Day of the Dead, the spirits of ancestors are said to revisit their families, who put marigolds and treats on their graves and offerings. This festival, celebrated on the first of November, is becoming popular north of the border, and can be observed in pop culture such as the 2018 video game “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” in which archaeologist Lara Croft attends a party in Mexico.

Anyways, for this theme the museum was decked out in all sorts of skeleton and skull artifacts, which are prominent icons during the Day of the Dead. There were all sorts of crazy statues, paintings, and posters depicting interpretations of the style of the Day of the Dead. There was even a very creative Star Wars one in which all the characters were given designs reminiscent of skeletons. There were all sorts of artworks reflecting on the Day of the Dead, from thematic elements, to fun spin-offs of details and Mexican style. And I’m guessing “Star Oax” is a play on the Mexican city and state of Oaxaca.

There were also several offering altars, commonly known as ofrendas on display. The offerings left for the dearly departed often give clues about their personalities and passions. Some were left with fruit, bread, or other treats, while one offering was complete with license plates, model cars, and photographs of fancy automobiles. It’s safe to say that whoever this shrine is dedicated to was a motor enthusiast.

The final part of the museum, as it is rather small, had a collection of mannequins in costume from various Mexican villages. If I remember correctly, they are meant to ward off evil spirits, based off of indigenous traditions and myths. I hope the aim for the design was to make the costumes look horrible to scare spirits away. Because honestly, whenever I look at them, all I can think of is Jason Voorhees when his mask comes off. And I’m talking Part VII Jason, where he’s all moist and decomposed and whatnot.

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All in all, I had a nice time in this museum. It’s doesn’t require too much of your time, probably only fifteen minutes, but inside you’re presented with a pleasant gift shop and a sizable array of Mexican paintings. The lines and the bright color schemes are the real attractions here, as well as the soul-piercing mask. I rate the Mexic-Art Museum a score of 3/5 Stars.

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