The Museo Regional del Sureste del Peten – Dolores
The principal regional museum is situated in the town of Nuestra Senora de Dolores, at km 401 on the road from Guatemala to the city of Flores, the capital of the Peten department. It opened in 2005 with the mission of preserving and disseminating information about the region’s archaeological heritage.
South-eastern Peten lies in the Maya Mountains in a natural beauty spot comprising diverse elements such as the rivers Xa’an and Mopan, which include natural waterfalls and drops. It also boasts a large cultural legacy thanks to numerous archaeological sites in the area and ruins from the ancient Maya civilisation, some of which have been declared protected national parks by the Guatemalan Directorate-General of Cultural and Natural Heritage.
The museum is situated in the town centre, near the colonial Catholic church, on a natural elevation with magnificent views over the valley. The cultural area occupies two levels: a landscaped square where outdoor cultural activities are organised and the museum itself, which is accessed by a flight of steps at the centre of the main facade.
The museum is divided into four sections: an administrative section and three exhibition sections. The permanent archaeological exhibition features 22 sites and three caves in the region, represented by 129 artefacts, while the chronological spectrum ranges from the Preclassic period (900 BC) to the Postclassic and beyond (AD 1000-1524). The exhibits were all found during excavations conducted as part of a national programme called the Archaeological Atlas of Guatemala, and many of them correspond to offerings associated with burials discovered in residential groups and the core areas of the different sites.
The first room is dedicated to pottery, although there is one display case with materials such as stone, shell and bone. The exhibits vary from projectile points, knives and flint eccentrics to marine material represented by polished star-shaped plaques. There are also several rings, a flower-shaped bezote (ring worn in the upper lip) and a conch necklace. One of the most fascinating pieces in this case is an alabaster vase from an offering at Sacul. The pottery exhibits include incense burners and polychrome globular cooking pots, bowls, plates, dishes and large containers, some of them with iconographic scenes. The last section of the room is given over to a slate sculpture, Stela 1 from Ixtonton.
The remaining sculptures are distributed between the second room and the entrance hall. There are 31 limestone pieces, including fragments of stelae, anthropomorphic heads, various dignitary torsos and two panels, one from Ixtutx composed of six carved fragments, and a four-piece panel from Machaquila. The museum is within easy reach by car or bus from Flores (82 km), and Dolores offers hotels, restaurants, petrol stations, transport routes, banks, etc. Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday, from 8 am to 4 pm.
From: ‘The Maya: an architectural and landscape guide’, produced jointly by the Junta de Andulacia and the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, 2010, pp232-233
This is a small, modern museum which displays its small collection in a clear and uncluttered manner. Every object is labelled but the information is only in Spanish.
Helpful staff. Closed on Monday’s (as are most state museums) but they might well open if you arrive when there are people around.
Follow the straight as a die road, that goes through the centre of the town, until it comes to a T-junction where you go up hill two blocks, then turning right at the sign for the dirt road to Ixkun. It’s on the left, up a flight of steps with a fenced area at the top.
Open everyday, except Monday, 08.00-1700