The first hundred years of the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología of Guatemala



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This thesis considers the development and growth of the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología of Guatemala during its first hundred years of existence within the context of the social, political, and cultural developments of the times. Covering the period from 1866 to 1967, it first provides basic historical information about the growth of the Museo Nacional as an institution, which itself was a convoluted process full of museum closures and relocations. Subsequently, three main factors that affected the development and direction of the Museo are examined—namely, the European museum model, Pan-American ideologies, and Guatemalan nationalism. Each factor is addressed in its own separate chapter, which not only delves into the origins of the factor itself, but also, and most importantly, its appearance in the museum space and how it shaped museum development. Finally, the conclusion discusses how to address the lasting effects of the European museum model and Pan-American ideologies in the museum space, and that the “national” aspect of the objects in the collection should be emphasized. Overall, this thesis conducts an investigation of factors that have historically affected the Museo Nacional of Guatemala in order to call attention to their enduring influence on the exhibition and public reception of the artifacts so that contextually richer displays for the objects can be developed in the future.