On this jade plaque from the Late Classic period (600 to 800 CE), a cross-legged king sits next to a dwarf. His throne is flanked by maize plants, with profiles of the god K’awiil and the maize god below, likely representing his deceased ancestors. On loan from Guatemala’s Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, it is just one of the rare treasures featured in the Royal BC Museum’s upcoming exhibition, MAYA: The Great Jaguar Rises, opening May 17. Courtesy RBCM

On this jade plaque from the Late Classic period (600 to 800 CE), a cross-legged king sits next to a dwarf. His throne is flanked by maize plants, with profiles of the god K’awiil and the maize god below, likely representing his deceased ancestors. On loan from Guatemala’s Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, it is just one of the rare treasures featured in the Royal BC Museum’s upcoming exhibition, MAYA: The Great Jaguar Rises, opening May 17. Courtesy RBCM

Royal BC Museum set to launch its latest exhibition coup

Victoria institution’s new show on the Maya makes its North American debut May 17

After its massively successful Egypt: The Time of the Pharaohs exhibition in 2018, the Royal BC Museum is preparing to take visitors on another journey into the ancient past starting May 17.

This mosaic statuette of stone, shell and plaster on a wooden core is from Tikal’s Early Classic period (500 to 600 CE). Photo by J.C. Menendez

Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises will showcase the powerful culture that rose in the tropical rain forests of Central America thousands of years ago. Boasting the world’s largest and most impressive display of Mayan objects from Guatemala, including almost 300 precious jade, ceramic, gold, stones and textile artifacts, this exhibition is making its North American debut at the Royal BC Museum.

Many of the artifacts have never been seen in North America before, including elaborate incense burners, magnificent jade and gold jewellery, and the exhibition’s namesake, a remarkable three-metre-long lime-and-stucco sculpture of a man with the attributes of a jaguar, dating from between 250 and 600 BCE.

“Securing the Maya exhibition for 2019 was doubly important for us,” says Leah Best, head of knowledge at the RBCM.

“First, we needed an exhibition we knew could hold its own as a follow up to Egypt. Second, Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises ties in perfectly with UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019. Guatemala, where all the artifacts are coming from, officially recognizes 30 indigenous Maya languages that are spoken by almost half of the population today.”

The artifacts and accompanying information will guide visitors as they learn how science and belief shaped the Maya identity from ancient times to the present day.

Janet Macdonald, head of learning for the RBCM, says the broad-based display of cultural belongings from the diminutive to the monumental – “a stunning, diverse expression of Maya culture” – will hook visitors from the moment they walk through the dramatic entranceway.

“This exhibition gives us a glimpse into a civilization that rivals any from the ancient world, and also considers current archaeological research, which consistently and continually reveals more about Maya life,” she says. “And let’s not forget that the artifacts in this exhibition have never before been seen outside of Guatemala. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The all-ages exhibition features many interactive activities, from writing sentences using Mayan glyphs to calculating your birthday on the Mayan calendar. The display will also feature in some of the youth and adult summer camps, workshops and other programming at the museum this year.

The exhibition is a joint venture between MuseumsPartner and the Royal BC Museum, with lending partners that include some of the most relevant museums and collections in Guatemala, and support from the Guatemala Ministry of Culture and Sports.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/maya.



editor@mondaymag.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Royal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

This limestone-and-stucco sculpture of a man with the attributes of a jaguar is from the Early Classic period (250-600 CE) and likely once adorned a public building. On loan from Guatemala’s Fundación La Ruta Maya, it is just one of the rare treasures featured in MAYA: The Great Jaguar Rises, opening May 17 at the Royal BC Museum. Courtesy RBCM

This limestone-and-stucco sculpture of a man with the attributes of a jaguar is from the Early Classic period (250-600 CE) and likely once adorned a public building. On loan from Guatemala’s Fundación La Ruta Maya, it is just one of the rare treasures featured in MAYA: The Great Jaguar Rises, opening May 17 at the Royal BC Museum. Courtesy RBCM

Just Posted

It takes much more than having talent as a singer or musician to pull off a live performance people will remember, says Sooke resident Jason Parsons. (Pixabay.com)
Vancouver Islander writes the book on live performances

Jason Parsons’ new book unlocks the keys to establishing a presence on stage

VIU’s ‘Portal’ magazine is turning 30 years old. (Image courtesy Chantelle Calitz)
Vancouver Island University’s literary magazine ‘Portal’ celebrates 30 years

Virtual launch featuring contributor readings took place April 30

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Saanich author Hannalora Leavitt hopes her new book, This Disability Experience, helps to dispel the ‘otherness’ that often surrounds people with disabilities. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Vancouver Island author demystifying disability and dismantling otherness

Hannalora Leavitt, who lives with a visual impairment, wants to change how people look at disability

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping to stage outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Members of A Cappella Plus rehearse for a ’60s-themed concert in 2019. This year the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo’s A Cappella Plus chorus marks 40 years with short documentary

Film covers group’s history, features performance and behind-the-scenes video

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Most Read