Saturday, October 01, 2011

National Interventions Museum in Coyoacán, Mexico City

A Museum for Mexican History Buffs

Mexico has a long history of foreign interventions, especially on the part of the United States, France, and Spain. So it's only fitting that there should be a museum chronicling the meddling of these foreign powers in Mexican affairs. The Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones or National Interventions Museum located in the pretty colonial suburb of Coyoacán is just such a place.

Housed in the 17th-century Ex-Convento de Churubusco, this little-visited museum is devoted to conflicts that occurred on Mexican soil between 1825 and 1916. On display are maps, documents, weapons, military uniforms, paintings and other historical artifacts related to events such as the French occupation of Mexico during the 1860's, Spain's attempt to regain its former colony in 1829, and the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 that resulted in Mexico losing almost half of its territory to the United States.

The Ex-Convento de Churubusco (Monastery of Churubusco) is itself no stranger to foreign intervention. On August 20, 1847, at the peak of the Mexican-American War, U.S. forces attacked the monastery, where some 1300 retreating Mexican soldiers had taken refuge. The Mexican battalions holed up inside reportedly surrendered only after they had run completely out of ammunition and had to resort to hand-to-hand combat.

Today, all is peaceful at the Churubusco Monastery. The only reminders of the Battle of Churubusco (as the conflict came to be known) are bullet holes scarring the building's walls, memorial plaques, and rusty cannon still guarding the monastry's entrance. Visitors can now explore the museum and the monastery, parts of which have been restored to their original condition, and then wander through tranquil gardens shaded by towering trees.

The Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones and the Ex-Convento de Churubusco are located on Calle 20 de Agosto at General Anaya, northeast of the Plaza Hidalgo in Coyoacán. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays) from 9am until 6pm. Admission is about US$4.00.

Check out my post on the Leon Trotsky Museum, which is also in Coyoacán.

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