According to Eveline Kuchmak, manager of temporary exhibitions at the Perot, Hidden Worlds Revealed is the largest exhibition about the Maya ever to tour North America. It was created by the Science Museum of Minnesota, with which the Perot has collaborated before, and contains 240 artifacts as well as two dozen interactive displays. The Perot is known for its interactiveness, which helps the museum to appeal to kids.
The exhibit also takes you step-by-step through the Maya hieroglyphs, which was almost a lost language. Binoculars that look like a Fisher-Price viewfinder show you the jungles and Maya temples. One of the coolest activities in the exhibit allows you to recreate corbeled arches using foam building blocks. Once you've built a painstaking imitation of Maya architecture it is both fun and distressing to watch kids tear it apart Godzilla-style.
Even though the exhibit is meant to be family friendly, it doesn't totally gloss over the Mayas' obsession with death and sacrifices. However, it’s all facts and no gore. We would have enjoyed a jaguar-sacrificing display, but accepting disappointment is a part of life.
Even Reyes — whose family immigrated from Guatemala, where there are actual Maya ruins — had good things to say about the exhibit.
“The replica stone monuments were brought to life with color projection mapping which is a concept even I did not stop to ponder when I was at the foot of the actual edifice,” she said. “The only thing that was not conveyed in the design of the exhibit was the tropical environment. The ruins in Tikal sit in a jungle where you are surrounded by tropical plants and animals, which is of course incredibly visually compelling.”
At least for someone with limited knowledge of the Maya, this exhibit will create an ambition to see the real deal.
See Maya: Hidden World Revealed at Perot Museum of Nature and Science, 2201 N. Field St., through Sept. 4. General admission for adults is $29; for kids it’s $20; for seniors it’s $21; and children 2 and under get in free. There’s a Maya gift shop at the end of the exhibition, so bring a few extra bucks if you want worry dolls. For more info, visit perotmuseum.org.