What to expect from Union Station’s new Maya exhibit

Kansas City, Mo – The creative and expansive world of the Maya will soon be on display at Kansas City’s Union Station.

“Maya: The Exhibition” opens Friday morning at 10 a.m. Union Station has been working to bring the exhibit to Kansas City since before the pandemic began. Staff didn’t actually learn the exhibit’s artifacts were actually on their way to the metro until last week.

“We started in 2019, in this exhibition. We knew that it would open after the most successful exhibition, Auschwitz. This exhibition opened four weeks after the closing of Auschwitz. We built this magnificent gallery and have been waiting and working diligently with the government of Guatemala to release artifacts. They are very rare, and special, the challenge of getting them out of the country and into the United States, has been a three-month process now,” said George Guastello, President and CEO of Union Station.

The extensive exhibition includes almost 250 original objects. Most of them are from the Classical Period dating from about 250 AD to 900 AD

This includes ceramic objects, things made of stone, and shell art. There are textiles, traditional dance masks, and other objects that are still used in Maya ceremonies today.

“This is one of the most culturally magnificent exhibits Union Station has ever put on. Some of the more than 300 artifacts brought from Guatemala have never been seen in the United States before,” Guastello said.

Union Station cooperates with La Ruta Maya Foundation in Guatemala, as well as the Guatemalan government bringing the exhibit to the Midwest.

“People will see the Maya as an extraordinary civilization. The Mayas are one of the top five civilizations in the world. They not only have urbanism and water management and how they dispose of garbage, how they organize themselves politically and territorially, but they also have writing. Writing and calligraphy. They have a local graphic language that can be written and make the Maya one of the top five in the world,” said Sofia Paredes-Maury, La Ruta Maya Foundation.

The foundation works to recover Mayan objects illegally removed from Guatemala.

“What we do is to receive them from donations from abroad to bring them back to the area where they were taken illegally out of the country, Paredes-Maury, he said. “We also receive items inside the country that have been registered as cultural heritage of the nation. So , by law, all these objects belong to the state of Guatemala, but they are under the custody of the La ruta Maya Foundation for study.

The foundation is also used to develop exhibits for educational purposes, such as the opening of the exhibit at Union Station.

Organizers say it’s an exhibition that has something for everyone to enjoy.

“As you can see, it’s beautiful, it’s colorful, it’s a celebration of the culture of the Guatemalan people and the Mayan community. So, we want something happy and joyful after the emotional Auschwitz exhibition. But this tells the Kansas City community that we’ve built a relationship international for an exhibit to Kansas City that has never been seen before,” Guastello said.

Tickets are now on sale for the exhibition It will be at Union Station through January 31, 2023. Prices start around $20 a person.

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