One would imagine that the Yucatan Peninsula would abound with museums filled with magnificent objects. This is however not the case as years of looting have seen most of the objects found, sold to foreign collections. The Mexican government is opposed to this practice and you could end up in jail attempting to smuggle or even purchase antiquities illegally.
There is a national consciousness now regarding saving their heritage that has not always been prevalent. In fact a couple years ago armed locals attacked a science team when they attempted to move a stele from a remote site. The locals laid claim to the stele and the scientists who were taking the stele to the national museum in Mexico City were forced to flee for their lives.
What does exist is worth seeing and the museums are by no means something to miss. Simply by visiting, you are expressing your interest and your admission fee goes towards supporting the efforts of the museums, always strapped for money.
The majority of information signs at the museums are in Spanish with very little English.
Location: Calle 60 Norte No. 299 E, Unidad Revolución Cordemex
Museo de Historia Natural
Location: Calle 59 No. 648 por 84 y 84 A, in front of the zoo “El Centenario”
Dzibilchaltun ruin site has a small museum, which is worth visiting. There are a number of large statues of ballcourt players and other fascinating objects.
Chichen Itza ruin site has a small museum containing some interesting artifacts.
Xcaret has a number of models of ruin sites, which gives you a good vantage point to see the layouts as opposed to a map. There is also a recreation of a Mayan family residence on a stream which you swim by and view the habitation from the water. This is a lot of fun. Xcaret is located in the Maya Riviera between Tulum and Playa del Carmen.
There are 2 museums in Campeche. One is right at the main-square of Campeche City. It contains a large number of steles. There is no sign at the entrance indicating there is a museum there and you have to either simply stumble in or know it is there. The second museum is a short distance away [4-km] but is cumbersome to get to. The best thing to do is to take a taxi, there and back. There is also a small display of model Spanish ships and a dungeon located in the most southern baluarte on the coast, which is a 10-minute walk from the main-square.
Museo de Estelas Maya
Location: On the north side of Plaza Moch-Cuouh at the Baluarte de la Soledad.
Visit Time: 1/2 hr
Of Interest: Contains many real steleas.
Fuerte de San Miguel
Location: 4 km south of Plaza Moch-Cuouh along the coast road with a 1 km walk up a hill from Avenida Escenica.
Visit Time: 1 hr
Of Interest: Lots of fine pottery here.
There is an interesting museum in Chetumal. It is high-tech and contains a number of computer based multimedia exhibits. There are also a number of excellent models of temples and buildings.
Museo de la Cultura Maya
Location: Located on Acenida de los Heros between Colon and Avenida Gandhi.
Visit Time: 1 hr
Of Interest: This museum has many casts of steleas and models of temple. It has a reconstruction of the Bonampak tomb and codexes.