Museums: A Living Temple

Mexico is itself a living museum. From 5,000 years ago until the Spanish conquest, its civilizations recognized their gods in the volcanoes and valleys that made their world a temple. To bring the gods closer, the Aztecs carved idols such as the rain god Tlaloc, whose 168-ton bulk now looms outside Mexico City's new National Museum of Anthropology (see color pages). The building itself reflects the autochthonous architecture of Mexico's landscape; it, too, is a living temple.

Mexico's elemental magic was skillfully woven into the museum by its architect, Pedro Ramírez Váquez, 46, a team of 40 specialists, and hundreds...

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