Have Twins, Will Travel

Maya: Hidden World Revealed

Boston, Mass – I really wanted to see Maya: Hidden World Revealed, the temporary exhibit at the Museum of Science, by myself. Or maybe on a date with my best boy Daddio. But not with the twins. This, of course, is because I actually wanted to see the exhibit. (Not run through it.)

Alas, the date didn’t happen. Nor did the solo outing. So when there was a half-day at school (again), I decided to take the twins on a date, so at least would see the exhibit (or run through it) before our museum membership expired.

The twins love their Playmobil Treasure Temple, which looks like a Maya temple. But what about models they cannot play with, temples they cannot climb, and artifacts they cannot touch…? Probably not so much. I had low expectations.

Well, I won’t claim that the twins weren’t running through the exhibit (and climbing on the replicas and touching the artifacts) but… they were captivated by what they saw. And so was I.

maya_maskThe exhibit displays some 250 artifacts, including pottery, jewelry, and masks. This is amazing: these types of artifacts are not really on display anywhere in Belize. Maybe there are museums in Mexico or Guatemala, but Belize has no facility to protect and present these ancient, intriguing pieces. Unfortunately, the twins had a hard time focusing on the individual pieces. I could keep the attention of Twin S by pointing out the various animal motifs, the scary faces, and other details of interest; but Twin V was way ahead of us.

Picture0114152145_1 (2)The boys were actually much more interested in the large reproductions of stelae, or stone carvings, found at tombs and temples around the region. They also loved examining the small scale models of the sites. This was a thrill for me, too, as the exhibit really showcases Belizean sites, displaying a replica of the frieze at Xunantunich, a model of the city at Caracol, and a sort of re-creation of the cave at Actun Tunichil Muknal. Twin V loved that last one. Finding bones in a cave… what’s better than that?

From the twins’ perspective, the best part about Hidden Worlds Revealed was that there was not a single “Do Not Touch” sign. This exhibit was clearly designed with kids in mind. And the curators really knocked it out of the the ball court with the hands-on activities, which–I have to admit–were fun for grown-ups as well as children. Things to do included:

  • Building your own temple out of blocks
  • Choosing a Maya name and learning how to write and pronounce it in Mayan (Twin S = Black Macaw, Twin V = Fire Shark)
  • Trying to pick up the (replica) heavy ball that was used in Maya sporting games
  • Playing archaeologist and reassembling the pieces of a (replica) pot
  • Using colored blocks to re-create Maya weaving patterns


We ended up staying for at least an hour, and the boys didn’t really want to leave when the time came.

So, that’s how we spent a cold afternoon in January, getting a little dose of Maya history and mystery at the Museum of Science. Not quite as good as a gig in Belize, but I’ll take it.