Kids and Family: The Hidden World of Maya Unearthed

February 19 2014, 11:05 AM

Seven million people in the world are still discovering their ancestors, and we're all invited to join them. The Maya: The Hidden World Revealed exhibit is displaying more than 250 artifacts from the ancient culture at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science until August 24th.

The largest Mayan collection ever to be displayed in the United States is a collaborative effort primarily between the DMNS and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Talks of pulling the pieces together began more than four years ago, but some of the artifacts have only been excavated in the past two years. "We bring in the science behind archeology into the museum," Michele Koons, the DMNS curator of archeology, says. "We are not just focused on the pretty things. We are learning more about the Maya outside of the big cities." For example, exhibit visitors can check out maps that peel away the forests that blanket ancient Mayan civilizations to reveal the landscape of the communities inside. 

The artifacts and information cover Maya's "Classic Period" from 250-900 A.D. Visitors begin by watching a short video clip depicting the Maize God and its central role in Mayan heritage before weaving through nine galleries that summarize all aspects of life in Maya. From the maps and large glyphs to interactive aspects, like the Mayan name generator, the story of Maya is told through a variety of mediums. Koons said one can't-miss display is a panel owned by the DMNS. It came to the museum in the 1960s, but had previously been looted from a dig site in Guatemala. When the panel's glyphs were analyzed and interpreted, it referred to a site in Guatemala that has yet to be found. 

The exhibit is geared towards people eight years old and up, but don't feel like your young, budding archeologist needs to be an expert in Mayan culture before his/her visit. "Getting in the exhibit is discovering it," Koons says. "It is an immersive experience. This could be a spark for kids to want to more about history."

Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd., 303-370-6000, dmns.org

Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.