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At Mexico's presidential palace, a peek into history and the inner sanctum

February 24, 2011 |  5:38 pm



Mexico's regal National Palace is for the first time giving the public access to the rarified upper chambers where presidents through the centuries have dispatched and governed and, on at least one occasion, been carried off to assassination.

The tour through the presidential office and a series of ornate ceremonial salons is part of a 10-month-long exhibition called Mexico 200 Years: The Nation in Construction that marks the country's bicentennial, celebrated in September (link in Spanish).  

Curator Miguel Angel Fernandez Villar said that a public that perhaps has been intimidated by the lofty institution that is the National Palace can finally get a glimpse of the full inner sanctum.

"The palace is a city within a city, that needs to be better known," Fernandez said.

The 6,000-square-yard exhibit is "a good history lesson,"  he added. It includes flags reflecting chapters of Mexican history, portraits of national icons from Miguel Hidalgo to Pancho Villa, as well as the latter's gun and saddle, and documents like a booklet-sized constitution. More than anything, the items show that Mexico as a nation is an evolving project.  Museum3

 Visitors, until August, can also see the skulls and other skeletal remains of Mexico's founding fathers (and at least one mother), contained in gilded urns and put on display for the bicentennial.





Photos: Top, Several Mexican government officials descend steps at the National Palace, with artist Diego Rivera's majestic mural on Mexican history in the backdrop.  Bottom, curator Miguel Angel Fernandez Villar explains a painting in the exhibit recounting 200 years of Mexican history. Credits: Tracy Wilkinson / Los Angeles Times