When: 29 Sep 2013 – 9 Feb 2014
Where: Visa Platinum Gallery, Level 4
Cost: Admission charges apply
Type: Arts; People and history
Discover the fascinating and ultimately tragic story of the Aztec Empire through an array of cultural treasures and dramatic multimedia from Mexico’s major museums.
Enter the exhibition temple to uncover the mysteries of the Aztec afterlife. See striking statues that tell a story of belief, devotion – and human sacrifice. Delve into Aztec daily life through archaeological finds and intricate models made exclusively for the show. And set the family loose on the Character Trail to find their place in Aztec society.
Buy your tickets online to avoid queues. Tickets are also available at the Museum. Te Papa prefers Visa.
|Child (5–15 years)||$6|
|Child (under 5 years)||Free with paying adult|
|Family (2 adults + up to 2 children)||$39|
|Concession (full-time students, SuperGold Card and Community Service Card holders, adult groups of 10 or more)||$12|
|Friend of Te Papa (adult)||$10|
Prices include $1.50 Ticketek booking fee per ticket.
About the exhibition
From 1325, the Aztecs rose spectacularly to dominate what is now Mexico – only to be abruptly overthrown by the Spanish 200 years later. Discover the drama, blood, and beauty behind their meteoric rise and their equally dramatic decline, and unearth their legacy in present-day Mexico.
Eagle warrior sculpture, 1440–69, Aztec. Photograph by Michel Zabé. Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia
The Great Temple was at the heart of the Aztec universe, and a 1:10 scale model towers over our exhibition. Dare to enter and you’ll uncover the mysteries of the Aztec afterlife.
Daily life was governed by a multitude of gods, and representations of the most important deities can be found throughout the exhibition. You’ll soon recognise the bulging eyes of Tláloc, god of rain, and the grotesque decay of Mictlantecuhtli, god of death. And were people really sacrificed over that stone? Yes they were – and you can find out precisely how.
Aztec chinampas model by Te Mahi © Te Papa
But, as many objects and art works show, Aztec society was also highly refined. You may admire the brilliant gold jewellery, but the Aztecs coveted jade and feathers even more. They were skilled artisans, passionate musicians, spirited dancers, and expert gardeners. They even played a ball game that made rugby look like child’s play.
Pendant showing Xochipilli (guardian god of metalworkers),1250–1521, Mixtec. Photograph by Michel Zabé. Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia
A veritable mosaic of events accompanies Aztecs: Conquest and glory
The whole family will enjoy exploring the exhibition with our Character Trail, full of fun, kid-friendly facts. Collect cool stamps as you do a light-hearted personality test to discover who you might have been in the Aztec world – and whether you made it out alive. Good luck!
Te Papa’s extensive Aztec events programme includes a celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a festival in which Mexicans remember deceased friends and family.
There are also floortalks, lectures, films, and education programmes.
Full events programme
For in-depth commentary on Aztecs: Conquest and glory, tune into the gold with the Aztec audio guide.
Expert Mexican and local commentators provide fresh insights into specially selected objects, and video content adds yet another dimension to the exhibition.
Hear more about the famous Aztec ball game, tlachtli, in the excerpt from the audio guide below.
Download this excerpt
$5 (about 30 minutes)
Exhibition merchandise available at Aztec Exhibition Store
You can take your Aztec experience home with you by visiting the exhibition store, which offers a range of exhibition-related merchandise.
The Aztec story is stunningly re-told in the Aztecs catalogue ($19.99).
Aztecs: Conquest and Glory catalogue
Handsomely illustrated with over 150 photographs and reproductions of iconic historical codices, it’s a cultural feast that will satisfy long after the exhibition.
Selected items are available online.
Aztec photo experience
Aztecs: Conquest and glory was developed by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in partnership with Mexico’s National Council for Culture and the Arts and National Institute of Anthropology and History (CONACULTA–INAH), along with the Australian Museum and Museum Victoria.
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