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Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed
(Photo courtesy: Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

By Joshua Pilkington

Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed provides interactive experience into an ancient civilization

It’s an exhibit five years in the making and based on a civilization that dates back centuries. “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” is more than just another temporary exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It is the museum’s baby.

“One reason why we are particularly proud of hosting this exhibit is because a team from the Denver Museum actually collaborated to create the concept and tell the story behind Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed,” said museum media relations manager Maura O’Neal. “Just the opportunity to partner with those institutions to bring all of those artifacts together and create a story has been a process in the making.”

That story began five years ago when the DMNS collaborated with the Science Museum of Minnesota, Museum of Science, Boston and the San Diego Natural History Museum. With a large number of Mayan artifacts already in their possession, researchers began to put together the massive exhibit.

“It’s actually the largest exhibit on Maya that’s ever been done in the U.S. and it has more than 250 artifacts in it,” O’Neal said.

She said one reason the museum chose Maya was due to the positive reception in Denver of previous exhibits of ancient civilizations from Latin America.

“Similar exhibits like the Aztecs and Inca ones that we’ve done in the past have always been very popular in Denver,” O’Neal said. “As I’ve been doing tours for people it’s always a point of pride when they can say ‘I am Mayan and I have family in Guatemala still.’ It really connects them directly to the content of the exhibit, which is great.”

The layout of the exhibit consists of nine rooms, each one with a different interactive setting that not only educates, but also enthralls.

“There are various topics like watching the skies and predicting lunar eclipses and how the Mayans built things and their architectural style and, of course, the famous Maya ball game,” O’Neal said. “Within each of those rooms there is at least one interactive station where people can put their hands on things and manipulate certain aspects of the exhibit and do their own discovering.”

Aside from the ancient aspect of Maya, the exhibit also features a room in which a visitor can immerse him or herself into the everyday life of a Maya, then and now. There are Maya-related trinkets that visitors can take home with them.

“I think one of the most popular things is we have a couple of computer terminals where there are touch screens for you to choose your own Maya name and print it out on a bookmark,” O’Neal said. “You can also move their calendar wheel system to create your birthday or any significant date and it also prints out. There are some significant takeaways from the exhibit as well.”

For those looking to get their dose of discovering from an ancient civilization in Spanish, O’Neal said the museum made that possible.

“This exhibit is presented in English and Spanish,” she said. “So every video, if it’s not in Spanish, it’s captioned with Spanish subtitles and every sign that we’ve got, every story that’s explained is explained in both English and Spanish.”

Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed operates daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and takes, on average, 90 to 120 minutes to complete. It runs through August 24.

Tickets vary from $5 to $22 based on age and museum membership. Group reservations are available as well by calling 303-370-6000. For on-line tickets or more information regarding Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed, visit





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