Spotlight on the Olmec civilisation and the little-known world of pre-Columbian cultures of the Gulf of Mexico. A fascinating journey into over three millennia of history, exchanges and artistic traditions.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION In line with the measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the museum is closed until further notice.
It was at the heart of the Gulf of Mexico on marshy land south of the current states of Veracruz and Tabasco that the Olmec culture once flourished (Olmec coming from the word Olmán, meaning ‘rubber country’). It was one of the largest and most mysterious Mesoamerican civilisations. It was a civilisation with profound artistic sensibility that remained unknown until the second half of the nineteenth century, but that played a leading role in the history of Mexico and its region. The development of Mesoamerican canons and thought (economic, social, political, intellectual and artistic principles) bear witness to this, lasting up to the Spanish conquest.
The exhibition presented at the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac sheds light on the Olmec civilisation and its spread over time (1600 av. è.c. jusqu’à 100 ap. è.c) and space. In total, over three hundred items, some of which are shown for the first time outside Mexico, reveal the huge diversity of the Pre-Colombian world with cultures of the Gulf, a pluricultural dynamic that unfolded through a multitude of artistic traditions, beliefs, rites and languages in a complex fabric of political and economic relations.
This exhibition is organised in collaboration with The Secretaría de Cultura, México and The Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH).