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Top 5 Museums for a Rainy Day in Puebla

Faces of Divinity: Mayan Green Stone Mosaics is on display at Museo Amparo through Aug. 29.You know it’s summer in Puebla when scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast every day for what seems like an eternity. The good news is that wet weather doesn’t have to rain on anyone’s holiday parade, because the capital city offers plenty of indoor activities for avoiding the storms outside.

For starters, why not explore one of Puebla’s vast array of wonderful museums? We’ve picked five that we think you’ll enjoy even if you don’t read Spanish. These sites won’t break your budget, either, because they’re all are open to the public free of charge at least one day a week. Most also give breaks to students and visitors older than 60 (you may be asked to show a university credential or an INAPAM card). The first two on the list, Museo Amparo and Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana, are participating in the city’s “Museum Nights” program, which means they’re open free during special hours (5 to 10 p.m.) through Aug. 12.

Museo Amparo

One of the finest museums in Mexico, Museo Amparo boasts an impressive collection of Olmec, Aztec, and other pre-Hispanic artifacts, as well as religious works from the Colonial period and contemporary art. Its temporary exhibitions vary wildly in content and scope, from the recent show of tattoos by Oaxaca artist Dr Lakra to the current display of Mayan funerary masks. Much of the museum’s explanatory signage is in English and Spanish. The Amparo is in the midst of a $17 million renovation project, scheduled to be completed by May 2012, that will open up existing areas, expand the on-site library, update the auditorium, and add new rooms for children’s workshops and more.
2 Sur #708, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-6pm; closed Tuesdays. Admission is 35 pesos (free on Mondays).

Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana

An antique mirror damaged by bullets in the Serdán home, now the Museum of the Mexican Revolution.Puebla is often recognized as the site of the Battle of Cinco de Mayo against the French, but fewer people know the capital city as the place where the Mexican Revolution began. Members of the Serdán family, who lived on Sixth Street, were vocal opponents of President Porfirio Díaz—and stockpiled weapons to support their cause. On November 18, 1910, two days before the official revolt was scheduled to begin, police surrounded the Serdán home in an attempt to seize everything, and a face-off ensued. The building (still riddled with bullet holes) now serves as a memorial of their loss—and the Revolution that their cohorts ultimately won.
6 Oriente #206, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

San Pedro Museo de Arte

This former hospital, built in the 16th century, is now a top-notch exhibition space. In addition to a small permanent collection that charts the building’s medical history — including a curious re-creation of its one-time pharmacy — the site accommodates all sorts of temporary shows, from traditional women’s textiles to ultramodern photography. The museum also occasionally hosts symphony concerts by the state orchestra.
4 Norte #203, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

Centro Cultural (Ex-Convento de) Santa Rosa

Closed for renovations until 2013.

Foodies won’t want to miss a trip to the former convent of Santa Rosa de Lima, where sometime during the Colonial period mole poblano was likely invented. (See our previous post, “Holy Mole Poblano!”) Visitors can go inside its stunning traditional kitchen adorned with talavera tile from ceiling to floor and imagine stoking the fire underneath a big ceramic pot filled with thick, bubbling sauce. The rest of the building, which was restored last year, has an interesting history, too, having served not only as a cloister, but also as an insane asylum and tenement housing before evolving into a cultural center in 1973. Today the site showcases diverse arts and crafts, from folk dancing to woodwork, from the seven economic regions around the state.
3 Norte #1203, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

Museo Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos

Situated on land occupied in different eras by two lines, Ferrocarril Mexicano and Mexicano del Sur, the National Museum of Mexican Railways studies, rescues, and preserves Mexico’s freight and passenger railroad heritage (since 1850) through cultural, recreational, and educational activities. Its current exhibit, “Yo Soy Rielero: Retrato Ferrocarrilero,” features more than two dozen historical photos of railway workers, their tools, and their locomotives — inside a train car, the Express NdeM 12178. The show runs through Sept. 25. Bring an umbrella to tour the tracks and beautiful grounds.
11 Norte #1005, Centro Histórico. Open 9am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 11 pesos (free on Sundays).

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