Sunday, January 17, 2010
Visited Moctezuma, the exhibition at the British Museum about the last great Aztec leader. I have to confess that Blockbuster exhibitions at the BM vary in subject interest for me, but one cannot judge the quality without attending - Hadrian for instance was an interesting subject but a rather poor exhibition. Aztec history is of mild interest to me, but I went along anyway and was glad I did so.
Moctezuma came to power in the early 1500s, leading a civilisation that was centred on Tenochtitlan, situated bang in the middle of modern-day Mexico City. The broad-ranging exhibition covers the background to his rule, the Aztec beliefs and way of life, the campaigns that Moctezuma successfully led, expanding their empire and bringing in valuable materials and human sacrificial victims.
I have the privilege of having visited the fantastic Anthropological Museum in Mexico City, whence much of the exhibition material came from, but of course the curation standard at the BM is excellent and so is an interesting alternative take, supported and concluding with the latest findings, including active digs going on just off the main square in Mexico City which Adrian and I visited all those years ago!
I did find myself turning off at some of the names, particularly of the gods, but thoroughly enjoyed the paintings of the Spanish invasion when Cortes first marched inland with troops in 1519, subjugating Moctezuma and painting a picture of a weak ruler voluntarily surrendering his throne, when the latest research suggests this was all spin by the invading colonialists.
Moctezuma is at the British Museum until the 24th January. Advanced booking is required for the last couple of weeks.
Posted by Sam Crawley at 7:54 pm