Encounter the Maya at Baylor's Mayborn Museum This Summer

  • Maya Exhibit
    Two new exhibits dealing with the Maya will be on display June 23 through Sept. 23 at the Mayborn Museum. In Mystery of the Mayan Medallion, secrets of an ancient world await visitors as they enter the world of Palenque, Mexico, where the Maya prospered for thousands of years. Photo courtesy of Kyle Gray, Mayborn Museum Complex
  • painted metaphors
    From the collection of University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology are an incense burner,a lid in the form of a deity head (left); and an incense burner and lid in the form of a porcupine, (right). Photo courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaelogy and Anthropology.
June 18, 2012

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Media Contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (June 18, 2012) -- Traveling through time and place, Baylor University's Mayborn Museum Complex will take visitors on an exotic journey and reveal secrets from the ancient Maya this summer.

Two new exhibits -- Encounters with the Maya: Featuring Arkansas Discovery Network's Mystery of the Mayan Medallion and University of Pennsylvania Museum's Painted Metaphors-- will be on display June 23 through Sept. 23 in the Thomas E. and Emilyne Weed Anding Traveling Exhibition Gallery at the museum, 1300 S. University Parks Drive in Waco.

"This summer, we have combined two exhibits similar in topic that employ different learning approaches," said Dr. Ellie Caston, Director of Baylor University's Mayborn Museum Complex. "We love to provide visitors of all ages the opportunity to see unique artifacts along with the chance to engage with interactive components."

In Mystery of the Mayan Medallion, secrets of an ancient world await visitors as they enter the world of Palenque, Mexico, where the Maya prospered for thousands of years. In this immersive exhibit created by the Arkansas Discovery Network and funded by the Donald P. Reynolds Foundation, visitors will be transported to Palenque, where an archaeological team has mysteriously disappeared from a dig site while investigating rumors of a priceless jade medallion buried in the ruins.

Parents and children can follow the clues the team left behind to locate the medallion. This exhibit uses the mystery and intrigue of the Maya empire to explore math, science and history in a way to capture the attention of all who visit.

Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya is a world-renowned collection of ancient Maya painted pottery that was excavated by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology nearly a century ago. The exhibit, which was organized by the University of Pennsylvania's Museum, has been reinterpreted in light of recent research in the field so that it yields new clues to understanding everyday life--and changing politics--of the ancient Maya of Guatemala 1,300 years ago.

The exhibition focuses on the ordinary Maya, with material that reflects the ancient way of life in the form of more than 150 artifacts, including figurines, jade carvings, musical instruments, weaving implements, burial urns, cave offerings, and more. The exhibition also features photos and video of Maya life in the village of Chama today.

At the center of Painted Metaphors are almost two dozen recently conserved Maya painted vessels from Chama, a Maya village in the highlands far from the more sophisticated lowland centers of Maya culture. It was here that the museum's archaeologist Robert Burkitt discovered this brilliantly painted pottery, unlike anything else the region had ever produced.

"What's special about the exhibits is that they're both telling the story of the Maya culture," said Mark E. Smith, assistant director of promotions and events at the Mayborn. "One is artifact rich and the other exhibit calls for audience participation. Our goal is to bring in exhibits that are rich and interactive for the public and that are family friendly, and I think that this exhibit does that exactly.

"We have some special activities that we like to include with our exhibits. Those will be offered for this exhibit from 1-3 p.m. on July 11, 18, 25 and Aug. 1."

Regular admission, which includes all of the Museum and the Encounters with the Maya exhibit, is $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and $5 for children. The exhibition is free to all Museum members and Baylor students. This courtesy is also extended to other college and university students with a valid ID.

The exhibit opens on Saturday, June 23, with a special opening day price of $5 per person. For more information about the exhibit, contact the Mayborn Museum Complex at (254) 710-1104 or visit www.maybornmuseum.com


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, classified as such with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Located on the Baylor University campus, the Mayborn Museum Complex features a natural science and cultural history museum focusing on Central Texas with walk-in dioramas, including one on the Waco Mammoth Site, and exploration stations for geology, paleontology, archaeology, and natural history. In addition, 17 themed discovery rooms encourage hands-on learning for all ages.

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