a tribute to Felipe Solís (1944-2009)

the exhibition was curated by Felipe Solís who was the Director of the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico.


around the exhibition

un grand nombre d'activités et de rendez-vous sont proposés autour de l'exposition : voir le programme complet


selected bibliography

the bookshop also offers a selection of books that relate to each temporary exhibition, which will enable you to extend and deepen your visit.

it can be downloaded (in .pdf form) by clicking here



photographs © Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico photo Martirene Alcantara



city of gods

visuel de l'affiche Teotihuacan

Garden Gallery

Temporary exhibition ticket or twin ticket

From Tuesday 6th October 2009 - Sunday 24th January 2010

curator: Felipe Solís †

The exhibition brings together some 450 exceptional items of the Teotihuacan culture, a large city of Ancient Mexico where recent excavations have led to a better understanding of the site.

The objects are presented in successive themes enabling visitors to discover this ancient city and to understand the way it functioned and the role and influence it held in the Mesoamerican world.

This unique exhibition presents items, most of which have never before been displayed in Europe. Some were unknown in Mexico until they were on show in Monterrey between September 2008 and January 2009. 95% of the objects come from Mexican collections and 5% from European collections (collections from German ethnographic museums and from the musée du quai Branly in Paris).


This exhibition was conceived by the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes and the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico, with the support of the Fundacion Televisa A.C.

It is co-produced by the musée du quai Branly, Paris, the Rietberg museum, Zürich and the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin.


dernière minute : face au succès rencontré par l'exposition, le musée du quai Branly propose 6 nocturnes exceptionnelles avant la fermeture : la galerie Jardin restera ouverte jusqu'à minuit les vendredi 15, samedi 16, dimanche 17, vendredi 22, samedi 23 et dimanche 24 janvier !


Teotihuacan: the interactive game

exhibition path

Jaguar de Xalla
Jaguar de Xalla

Teotihuacan: its history and its monumental architecture

  • Introduction to Teotihuacan

In accordance with Mexican museum tradition, visitors to the exhibition are firstly presented with one of the most significant items of the exhibition: a work of art, which greets the public and provides a striking image which will remain in visitors’ minds. It is an architectural sculpture of a “sacred Jaguar”, recently discovered in the Xalla Palace. Standing at more than 2 metres high the statue provides a strong visual impact as well as displaying some typical characteristics of Teotihuacan art.


  • The history of Teotihuacan (100 BC – 650 AD) in relation to the rest of the world

The archaeological remains of Teotihuacan testify to its phenomenal development, from its creation in around the first century BC. Its territorial and demographic expansion as well as its political, cultural and artistic vitality were constant until the seventh century AD. During these eight centuries of expansion, the city experienced numerous changes on a political, economic and religious level. These transformations were conveyed through different artistic styles.


  • The archaeological site of Teotihuacan

A large model (around 10 x 5 metres) has been specially designed for the exhibition.

The main sacred buildings, such as the pyramids of the Moon and the Sun, or the temple of Quetzalcoatl, situated at the heart of the Citadel, were positioned and constructed according to astronomical criteria. These buildings thereby enabled the inhabitants of Teotihuacan to live in relation with the most significant astral phenomena: Equinox celebrations or the prevalence of the polar star at night are some examples.


  • Colossal or architectural sculptures and murals

The first collection of objects forms part of this introductory section of the exhibition: monumental sculptures that form part of the buildings, architectonic elements, sculptured reliefs and friezes, murals, work tools, etc.


Politics, economics and society (hierarchy and power, sacrifice, war)

The recent excavations in the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcóatl) and discoveries in the Pyramid of the Moon have enabled the scientific community to expand its knowledge of the city’s social organisation: the Teotihuacan empire was based on militarism, the offering of prisoners, or the sacrifice of victims, in particular during ceremonies commemorating the extension of ritual buildings. This section also highlights the warrior culture of Teotihuacan.

For the first time in Europe, Teotihuacan will present extremely delicate objects uncovered in these recent excavations (more than 1000 objects were recorded) in addition to a selection of items from the prestigious collection of Diego Rivera.

la mort
la mort

Religion and vision of the universe: Gods, rituals and funeral rites in Teotihuacan

The objects found during archaeological excavations over the last 100 years testify to the key role of religion in the City. That is why one of the main focuses of the exhibition is on the religious and cosmological aspects.

Extraordinary items, obtained from different types of burial places, represent various gods and throw light on the funeral rites of the ancient City. For example: sculptures of Huehueteotl; murals showing gods and possible rituals; stone and clay ritual masks; incense burners; gods of death; Quetzalcóatl; receptacles of Tlaloc (god of water); Figurines of Xipe-Tótec (god whose presence and recent meaning – he is thought to be associated with war and the goldsmith and silversmith trade – remain a mystery), etc.

This section offers a multimedia programme presenting the main gods worshipped by the inhabitants of Teotihuacan, notably through their representations on objects found during archaeological excavations of the site and showing the religious beliefs of the city’s inhabitants.

Society: life in Teotihuacan’s palaces and homes

The layout of Teotihuacan reveals its profoundly urban nature.

The upper social classes lived in what we call “palaces”: stone complexes made up of several rooms overlooking patios, while the lower classes lived in huts of two or three rooms, situated on the outskirts of the City.

The exhibition will display various architectural items and luxury objects found in the palaces while the life of the lower classes will be illustrated by everyday objects such as millstones, ceramics and figurines.

The exhibition presents a selection of items from the “treasure-trove of the century”: statuettes, offerings to the gods, which were uncovered in their original colours and which have never before been displayed in Europe.


splendour of the arts and crafts: stones, ceramics and precious jewellery

The large quantity of items discovered over the last century have revealed the highly elaborate craft techniques used as demonstrated in the variety of the materials.

This section presents the remarkable art and craft works of Teotihuacan, in three main disciplines: ceramics, lapidary (precious stones and jewellery), and lithic art (sculptures), including the largest collection of masks from Teotihuacan ever brought together.

Xipe Totec – présence de Oaxaca à Teotihuacan
Xipe Totec – présence de Oaxaca à Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan relations with the Mesoamerican world

The power and prosperity of Teotihuacan during the classic period (250-550 AD) are unquestionable and is proven by the large quantity of archaeological objects found outside Teotihuacan territory: the Mayan world, western Mexico, Oaxaca and the Gulf coast.

The calendars and pictographic systems discovered in foreign cities also testify to the influence of Teotihuacan society beyond the central Mexico basin.
Inversely, numerous objects from other regions and other Mesoamerican eras have been found in Teotihuacan.

The final section of the exhibition will therefore present some objects which provide clear evidence of the existence of exchanges (economic, political and religious as well as military) with places outside Teotihuacan.

For centuries after the fall of Teotihuacan, the city continued to fascinate the populations of the surrounding regions, which explains the discovery of extraordinary objects from Teotihuacan in tombs in the Templo Mayor: the Aztecs preserved and offered up these objects which they considered to be valuable antiquities.

partenaires médias de l’exposition