British Museum, London

British Museum, Bloomsbury

British Museum, Bloomsbury by wallyg. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

This is one of greatest museums of the world, but mainly dedicated to the arts and civilizations of past ages.

One science-related item is the Rosetta stone, displayed in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery on the ground floor. It contains the trilingual text – hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek – of a decree issued on the first anniversary of the coronation of Ptolemy V, King of Egypt. The text, finely chiselled on a slab of black basalt, is still clearly legible except where the surface itself has been damaged. Posters mounted beside the stone give an account of its history and the Angle-French rivalry that was part of it. Officers of the French army made the discovery and recognized its importance, but the stone came to England as one of the spoils of war. Thomas Young, the great polymath of British science around 1800, vied with the Frenchman Jean Champollion in the decipherment of the hieroglyphics. Young was the first to recognize that some hieroglyphics were alphabetical characters in spite of their pictorial appearance. He published all his evidence for this conclusion, but Champollion stuck for some time with the more conventional view that they were all pictographs. Young, in turn, was wrong in many of his specific assignments and Champollion, eventually won over to the alphabetical theory, is credited with the definitive transliteration of the text. (However, it took a new bilingual text, discovered later in another place, to convince Champollion and set him off in the right direction-he never acknowledged Young’s priority for the basic underlying idea.)

The British Museum is open seven days a week.


Museo Universitario del Chopo (Chopo University Museum), Mexico City

Museo Universitario del Chopo

Museo Universitario del Chopo by Omar Omar. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license.

During the twentieth century world’s fairs were a great success in the major European and American cities, but smaller cities prepared local fairs, and one example of them was the Art and Textile Industry Exhibition held in Düsseldorf, Germany.

For this event, the German metallurgical company Gutehoffnungshütte (Good Hope Mine) located in Oberhausen, built the building parts to assemble, under design of Bruno Möhring.

At the end of 1902 concluded the fair and Mexican Company of Permanent Exhibition bought three of their four exhibition halls. The building was dismantled and shipped to Mexico. Was assembled in the north of the city, in Santa María la Ribera neighborhood, near railway stations, because it was an attractive place for middle class families, it was near the center and had all the services.

Between 1903 and 1905 the so-called Cabaña de la Buena Esperanza (Good Hope Cottage) was assembled in the area of Chopo Street (common name for Populus nigra, tall tree of African origin, found in Europe and Asia), in Santa María la Ribera. Nowadays, street change its name to Enrique González Martínez Street.

In 1909, Public Instruction and Fine Arts Ministry rented the Chopo building to mount there a Natural History Museum. But before was used to install a Japanese industrial art exhibition that was part of the Centenary celebrations of Independence.

Museo Universitario del Chopo at night

Museo Universitario del Chopo at night by júbilo haku. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license.

On December 1st, 1913 opened the Natural History Museum. The former National Museum of Mexico welcomed anthropological, ethnological, paleontological, and zoological collections. The collection was divided: the anthropological and ethnological collections remained in the original headquarters and the natural sciences formed the new Natural History Museum. By 1922, the Museum was the best in Mexico and received 1,200 visitors daily, which called him familiarly, Museo del Chopo (Chopo Museum).

By the mid-sixties the deterioration of the building and the decline of the heritage caused closure of the Museum. The collections went to the Museum of Natural History in Chapultepec, the Museum of Geology and institutes, schools and faculties of UNAM.

The rescue work of the building began in 1973. After nearly two years of work, Chopo University Museum was ready as a space dedicated to cultural diffusion, particularly young and experimental art.

On November 25, 1975, UNAM Chancellor, Guillermo Soberón opened the Museum. Since its opening, it was a dynamic advocate of contemporary art, characterized by its focus on innovation, inclusive and pluralistic character, and his work is positioned as an essential reference of the Avant Garde.

In 2006 and 2007 renewed its building to better serve the needs of contemporary art, through intervention of renewed architects and engineers and implemented by the Coordination of Special Projects of UNAM.

Edificio Carolino (Carolino Building), Puebla, Mexico

Patio del Edificio Carolino

Patio del Edificio Carolino by El mundo de Laura. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

Not so far from Mexico City is Puebla, a place famous for its beautiful centre, plenty of well conserved and beautiful buildings from the Spanish Conquest.

Carolino Building is considered one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in the city. Its aesthetic quality is manifested in its pillars, arches, cornices, window framing, the rails and finials. Its main rooms: the Baroque Hall Auditorium and the Paranymph of exceptional beauty, also in Lafragua library are saved important ancient books of great documentary value. The main staircase is large and is decorated with a series of paintings that recall the patronage of King Charles III. The Royal Caroline College of the Holy Spirit was founded by Melchor de Covarrubias in 1578 and its administration was in charge of the Jesuits. After the order expulsion in 1765 and his return in 1819 were they in charge of several schools teaching, and this was the largest due its magnitude.

Guarda historia, Edificio Carolino

Guarda historia, Edificio Carolino by El mundo de Laura. Image licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

After Independence was called Imperial College and in 1825 by decree of State Congress its administration pass to Puebla state government. In 1835 it was called State College, changing its name several times until in 1937 he became the University of Puebla and in 1956 founded the now Autonomous University of Puebla, the main scientific and cultural polo of the state and one of the most important of the country.

The front of the building of two levels was built entirely with marble, and there are five windows and beautiful boxed bars. A half of the facade is a plaque dedicated to the Jesuit Juan Gomez. A heavy cornice separates the two levels, with seven balconies and framed windows with jambs, guarded by beautiful wrought iron. In the central top is located the National Emblem on the right arm of the University and Puebla and on the left the shield of the State College. The monumental staircase is formed of three sections in a “Y”, carved in stone gray and iron railing.

The courtyard is framed by Tuscan columns supporting stone arches, the roof is formed by cross vaults. In the second windows you can admire jambs pediment topped by a small cut. This set is topped by a cornice count uproots a balustrade with vases and gargoyles in the form of cannon. Past the lobby is the second court. Where is a statue of College of the Holy Spirit founder, Miguel Covarrubias.

In the place where the domestic chapel was now is the Baroco Hall. The “silería” (a place where subterraneous granaries are made) that adorns it was furnished with Baroque chairs that belonged to the College of Saint Pantaleon. In the background is a wooden altar with images of Melchor de Covarrubias, and bishops Juan de Palafox, Domingo Pantaleón and Idelfonso de la Mota with their Episcopalian shields. The decoration of the vaults is covered by branches and leaves with shell ornaments, fruits, flowers, cloth, scrolls, Plateresque cherubs.

On its walls are set of chairs made with cedar on neoclassical style. At the top, in a canopy, the bust of St. Thomas Aquinas, and in the middle part is the coat of arms of the city of Puebla. José María Lafragua library holds a number of important collections of old books and its rich literature makes it one of the most important in Mexico.

Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (Ancient College of San Ildefonso), Mexico City

Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (1)

Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (1) by Omar Omar. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license.

The Ancient College of San Ildefonso was one of the largest educational institutions in the capital of New Spain. Its foundation by the Jesuits dates from 1588, as a seminary where students resided in the Congregation. Around 1618 began operating under the Royal Patronage granted by Philip III, establishing the Oldest Royal College of San Ildefonso.

In the early Eighteenth century it was rebuilt, leading to the building we know today and is considered one of the most remarkable examples of civil architecture in Mexico City.

Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (2)

Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (2) by Omar Omar. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license.

After the expulsion of the Jesuits decreed by King Charles III in 1767, the building had several functions: the headquarters of a battalion of the regiment of Flanders, school administered by the colonial government and led by the secular clergy, the temporary headquarters of the Law School, a few chairs in the School of Medicine and the headquarters of U.S. and French troops in 1847 and 1862 respectively.

The history of the Jesuit Foundation concluded to make way for the institution of liberal spirit that would lay the foundations of the new educational system which would later become the core of the National University. In 1867, Benito Juárez’s government started a reform in the field of education and its institutions. The Organic Law of Education created the National Preparatory School, which was established in the building of the Colegio de San Ildefonso. Its first director was Dr. Gabino Barreda (1818-1881), who conducted an innovative curriculum based on the principles of the positivist philosophy of Auguste Comte.

Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (3)

Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (3) by Omar Omar. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license.

In 1910, the National Preparatory School became part of the National University founded by Justo Sierra. For more than six decades remained the cradle of several generations of intellectuals and eminent personalities. 1978 was the last year it hosted the National Preparatory School. The building remained closed to the public until 1992, when it was renovated to house the exhibition “Mexico: Splendors of 30 centuries”.

Currently is a museum and cultural center considered to be the birthplace of the Mexican muralism movement. The complex is located between San Ildefonso Street and Justo Sierra Street in the historic center of Mexico City.