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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Museum and artisan shops to breathe new life into Mérida’s Ateneo

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
Mérida’s Ateneo lay right next to the city’s cathedral but has over the past couple of decades fallen into disrepair. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Mérida’s former bishopry, known today as the Ateneo Peninsular, is about to get a major overhaul.

The Ateneo, as it is most often referred to by locals, will be converted into a new museum dedicated to the history of the Yucatán.

The Ateneo is one of Mérida’s oldest colonial structures and traces its history back to the 16th century and sits right next to Mérida’s San Idelfonso Cathedral. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

One of the first exhibits to open is slated to be a series of artifacts excavated during the construction of the Tren Maya

The complex is also slated to have a bookstore, as well as shops dedicated to the sale of high-quality handcrafts. 

The project to revive the Ateneo is being spearheaded by the federal government as part of several infrastructure projects funded by the Tren Maya fund. 

Earlier: I hope I’m wrong about the Maya Train

Other projects being funded by the Tren Maya fund include a hotel at the archaeological site of Uxmal, as well as the opening of several new museums at sites including Chichén Itzá and Kabah. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine 

In 1915 the former bishopry closed its doors, giving way to a renovation project which gave the Ateno the french inspired look it is today known for. 

The facade of the Ateneo Peninsular is known for its French-inspired architecture dating to the early 20th century. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Since the mid-1990s, the Ateneo has hosted Yucatán’s contemporary art museum or MACAY. Though the museum temporarily closed back in 2021 due to budget cuts, it is now open again, though at reduced hours from 10 AM to 2 PM, except for Wednesdays and Sundays. 

The MACAY is in the very heart of Mérida’s Centro Histórico and is accessible through the Pasaje de la Revolución, a corridor adjacent to the San Ildefonso Cathedral and the Ateneo Peninsular. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The federal government has given an inauguration date for the reopening of the Ateneo, but given that federal elections are to be held next year, it is likely that works will be complete by 2024.

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