Since its inauguration, on October 19, 2020, the Lázaro Cárdenas Presidential House Museum, a space that evokes the life and legacy of who is considered the first president in contemporary Mexican history, has become one of the most visited sites in the Los Pinos Cultural Complex, with around 350 attendees per day, which in December that number rose to 500.
Among those visits there are some of special significance, for example, that of a group of Yaquis who, after going through the 14 rooms distributed in what was the residence of ‘Tata’ Cárdenas, left the museum in tears when they recognized the photographs, the words and the desires of their ancestors in museography.
That experience, comment the specialists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), who were in charge of the historical script, the design and the museography of the cultural venue, is proof that the chosen discourse has had the best response: the emotional one, given that people and even entire communities come to identify with the elements exposed.
This work has received distinctions such as the Honorable Mention of the Miguel Covarrubias Prize for Museography and Museum Research, granted by the Premios INAH 2021 to a multidisciplinary team of historians, museographers and designers, made up of Juan Manuel Garibay López, Salvador Rueda Smithers, Susana Avilés Aguirre, Alejandra Ruano Calva, Cecilia Llampallas Sosa, Alejandro Molina Álvarez and Julieta Rodríguez Medina.
“Receiving this award –commented Juan Manuel Garibay, INAH national coordinator of Museums and Exhibitions– is a great honor for the team, it is discovering, expressing and sharing that a historical site can be reissued and musealized, and you can talk with it in an exercise of temporary vocations”.
In a joint interview, the creative team evoked the challenge of choosing what would be shown inside that mid-20th century residence, after the Los Pinos residential area was opened to all Mexicans by decree of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in December 2018.
Among the options of creating an art gallery or a museum dedicated to the presidents of Mexico, it was decided to dedicate the space to Lázaro Cárdenas, “in the first place, because it was a Cardenista decision to take the presidential residence of the Castle chapultepec a The pines.
“Secondly, and even more importantly, because the figure of Cárdenas allowed us to build a 70-year window on the history of Mexico, from the Porfirian decline to the 1970s, detailing the biography of the character, explaining his political program and how this defined the political vocation of all presidents to follow”, pointed out the director of the National Museum of History, “Chapultepec Castle”, Salvador Rueda Smithers.
Approximately one year of continuous work was required for the investigation, the collection of materials with the support of institutions such as the Ministry of Public Education, the National Cinematheque and the Photography Archive Museum, and route planning. Which took place, Alejandra Ruano, Cecilia Llampallas and Julieta Rodríguez recalled, in the context of practically total confinement that the first months of the health contingency derived from Covid-19 implied.
Thus, each image and video, the acoustic stations, the multisensory elements or with Mexican Sign Language for people with disabilities and the reproductions of original pieces such as the president’s presidential sash, were studied and selected so that the public knows Lázaro Cárdenas not only in its political facet, but also in its family and affective component.
An example of the above is the last element that the visitor sees on the tour, a photograph selected by Susana Avilés, director of the museum, in which General Cardenas from the side while descending the slopes of ash and earth of the Paricutín volcano.
The idea of this photo as the last point of the museum, concluded Susana Avilés and Salvador Rueda, is that while the public ends its visit after passing through the room that deals with what happened on October 19, 1970, when the general died, it is given to understand that Lázaro Cárdenas in fact departed from earthly life that day, but that he has not stopped traveling through history, walking the path.