'MAYA 2012' World Premiere Opens May 5 With Fanfare at Penn Museum

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Media Contact:Pam Kosty | pkosty@upenn.edu | (215) 898-4045April 6, 2012

Did the Maya believe the world would end in December 2012?

With MAYA 2012: Lords of Time—a world premiere exhibition opening May 5th—the Penn Museum confronts the current fascination with the year 2012, comparing predictions of a world-transforming apocalypse with their supposed origins in the ancient Maya civilization. The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Instituto Hondureño de Antropologia e Historia of the Republic of Honduras, and runs through January 13, 2013.

His Excellency Porfirio Lobo Sosa, President of the Republic of Honduras, joins Penn Museum Director Richard Hodges to cut the ribbon and open the exhibition to the public at 10 am Saturday, May 5.  An Opening Weekend Celebration, co-sponsored by the Mexican Cultural Center, features Mayan and Central American music, dance, weaving and craft demonstrations, and family craft activities in the Museum Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm.

Timed tickets to the exhibition (includes admission to the Museum) are on sale by phone at (888) 695-0888, or through the Museum’s website www.penn.museum/2012.

MAYA 2012 leads visitors on a journey through the Maya’s time-ordered universe, expressed through their intricate calendar systems, and the power wielded by their divine kings, the astounding “lords of time.” Visitors explore the Maya world through a range of interactive experiences and walk among sculptures and full-sized replicas of major monuments while uncovering the truth behind these apocalyptic predictions.

The exhibition features more than 150 remarkable objects, including artifacts recently excavated by Penn Museum archaeologists at the site of Copan, Honduras, and on loan from the Instituto Hondureño de Antropologia e Historia. Visitors follow the rise and fall of Copan, moving across the centuries to discover how Maya ideas about time and the calendar have changed up to the present day. Contemporary Maya speak to their own heritage and concerns for the future.

MAYA 2012 offers visitors a rare opportunity to view spectacular examples of Classic Maya art—some of which have never before been seen outside Honduras—and delve into the Maya people’s extraordinary, layered, and shifting concepts about time,” noted Exhibition Curator Dr. Loa Traxler. “MAYA 2012: Lords of Time uncovers a history and culture far richer and more surprising than commonly supposed.”

Dr. Traxler, Mellon Associate Deputy Director of the Penn Museum and co-author of The Ancient Maya, (Sixth Edition, 2006), is an archaeologist who excavated at the site of Copan from 1989 through 2003. Simon Martin, Associate Curator of the Museum’s American Section and a leading Maya epigrapher, is co-curator of the exhibition.

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