So there you are, stuck at the Mexico City “Benito Juarez” Airport Terminal 2, killing time. With the new regulations requiring international travelers to arrive at the airport two hours ahead of time, you’ve got a long wait until you catch your flight. You’re already checked in and have wandered around, window shopping at the gift shops lining the passageways, leafing through the books and magazines at the newsstands (who really cares about Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, anyway?), have already grabbed a double espresso while perusing the fast food shops, which by the way, provide an astonishing array of appetizing options at a decent price – I am referring to the the food court outside the security gate with its vast assortment of fresh fruit platters, Mexican antojitos, the requisite Starbucks, delicious pastry shops, as well as Chinese, Japanese and American fare, to name just a few options, and I am NOT being facetious. What the food court lacks in decor, it makes up for in quality, variety, freshness and value.
You are just about ready to go through the security check point, when, wait a minute … what is that that you see out of the corner of you eye? A museum? A museum in the middle of the airport? Yes, a museum! As of 2008, briefly after Terminal 2 was inaugurated, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (better known as the “INAH,” an abbreviation of el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Spanish), in collaboration with airport authorities, has etched out an oasis, offering temporary exhibits on Mexico’s pre-hispanic cultures, thus, providing weary local and international travelers, as well as those waiting to pick up passengers, a refreshing cultural option.
The 650 square meter exposition center is open 24-7, 365 days a year, displaying mainly, though not exclusively, high quality reproductions of early cultural artifacts, a few original pieces, and a series of excellent photographs. If not told, the average viewer could probably not distinguish between an original pre-hispanic piece and a well-made copy. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of reproductions filling the halls of the National Museum of Anthropology, all clearly marked, yet often undetected by the untrained eye! The displays in Terminal 2 change regularly, approximately every 6 months, an antidote for the doldrums of the well-seasoned traveler, and a refreshing alternative for the typical non-museum goer or tourist who is visiting Mexico to learn more about its early history.
The INAH’s efforts are to be lauded. All the exhibits I have seen, and there have been many, are well organized and informative, plus easy to understand even for those unfamiliar with pre-hispanic cultures. The current exhibit, entitled “Mexico, Territorio Arqueológico,” is particularly well structured, and for travelers who have lots of time on their hands, it provides a good alternative to balancing a computer or book on their laps after checking in their luggage.
As a matter of fact, you might consider arriving to the airport 15 minutes early to be sure to have time to check out the exhibit! The INAH Museum is easily accessible, opposite the security check point entry at Terminal 2, with an EDUCAL Book Store within view for those whose interests are whetted, with an unusually well-stocked collection of books on Mesoamerican culture and Mexican history, making the arduous wait for your flight somewhat more bearable.