The Aztec Empire

The Aztec Empire


The Aztec Empire
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue, New York City
October 15, 2004–February 13, 2005


October 14, 10 am–2 pm


The most comprehensive survey of the art and culture of the Aztecs ever assembled outside Mexico, The Aztec Empire is organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) and the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (CONACULTA).


Felipe Solís Olguín, director of the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City and one of the world's foremost authorities on Aztec art and culture, is guest curator.

Enrique Norten, founder and principal of TEN Arquitectos, based in Mexico City and New York, and J. Meejin Yoon will design the exhibition. Currently the firm is designing Harlem's first major tower and Brooklyn's new Visual and Performing Arts Library, among other projects.

More than 450 works drawn from major collections in the United States and Mexico, including many important works never before seen outside of Mexico, are featured in The Aztec Empire, the first large-scale survey of Aztec art and culture to be seen in the United States in more than 20 years.

Unlike earlier exhibitions on the subject, whose focus has been the representation of Aztec society at its peak, The Aztec Empire provides a broader chronological and cultural context for the Aztecs' achievements. This exhibition explores how the earlier forms and symbols of the Aztecs' ancestors, beginning with the Olmecs (1200–600 B.C.), were adopted and transformed by the Aztecs, and examines the visual culture and beliefs of the peoples that surrounded the Aztecs—those who were subjugated by them as well as those who remained their enemies.

Many of the works on view in The Aztec Empire are unique to the showing, including those from Mexican and U.S. collections that will be seen together for the first time. A highlight of the exhibition are treasures only recently uncovered at the Templo Mayor archaeological site in Mexico City, including two monumental figures of fired clay, one of an Eagle Warrior (an elite Aztec soldier) and the other of Mictlantecuhtli, god of the dead.

The exhibition presents a vivid and immediately recognizable portrait of an ascendant society in a thriving metropolis and seat of power. Sculptures depict the appearance of an urbane people and the artifacts used in the course of their daily life. In addition to large-scale works in stone, and sculptures of fired clay and stucco, the exhibition also features jewelry; works of precious metals, turquoise, bone, shell, and feathers; musical instruments; and household as well as ceremonial artifacts that provide a realistic human portrait of the culture.

The Aztec Empire covers material through the time of the European conquest, with objects that reflect the devastating destruction of Aztec society.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication, entitled The Aztec Empire, which promises to become a major reference work in Aztec studies. Essays by 23 scholars, authorities in their respective fields, explore such aspects of the Aztec culture as their view of the cosmos, religion and rituals, and daily life, both as common citizens and nobility. Ecological and anthropological evaluations, and detailed information about each artifact in the exhibition will also be included.

The Aztec Empire is organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in collaboration with the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (CONACULTA) and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) of Mexico.

Major sponsors of this exhibition are Banamex/Citigroup and Televisa.

Additional support provided by PEMEX , Mexico Tourism Board, and TELMEX.

The exhibition is made possible in part by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities, together with the generous support of the Leadership Committee for The Aztec Empire, GRUMA, ALFA, and Con Edison.

Transportation assistance provided by Aeromexico.

Media support provided by Channel Thirteen/WNET.

Special thanks to the Embassy of Mexico in the U.S., the Embassy of the United States in Mexico, and the Consulate General of Mexico in New York.

HOURS: Sat –Wed 10 am–5:45 pm; Fri 10am–8pm; closed Thursday
ADMISSION WITH AUDIO GUIDE: $23 adults; $20 students/seniors; $5 children under 12; $5 members. Audio tour produced by Antenna Audio.
ADMISSION ONLY: $18 adults; $15 students/seniors; children under 12 free; members free.
FAMILY SUNDAYS: $18 for families with children under 18 and up to 2 adult companions; second Sunday of each month during the exhibition.
BRING A FRIEND FRIDAYS: Half-price admission on Friday evenings, 5–8pm.


June 3, 2004

FOR INFORMATION, please contact:

Anne Edgar

Anne Edgar Associates

Tel: 646 336-7230


Guggenheim Museum Public Affairs

Tel: 212 423-3840


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