The current Museo Fernando García Ponce-MACAY museum is located in the heart of the city of Mérida, beside the cathedral; for this reason, its original construction was closely related to a religious use. The construction began between 1573 and 1579, by order of Fray (friar) Diego de Landa, bishop of the province of Yucatán; however, not until the time of the bishop Fray Gonzalo de Salazar (1608-1636) was the work completed and opened as the Palacio Arzobispal (archbishop palace).
As with the majority of the colonial buildings, the construction was only one floor with minimal exterior adornments. With the passing of the years, the building went through numerous transformations until it received its final architectural style: French neoclassical.
The building also housed the chapels of San José and Santo Rosario. Later it was the seminaries Seminario Conciliar de Nuestra Señora del Rosario and San Ildefonso. Between 1751 and 1760 under the archbishop Fray Ignacio de Padilla y Estrada, the second floor and balconies were built. In 1824 it was the university of second and third teachings. In 1867 it was inaugurated as Colegio de San Ildefonso.
During the time of governor Salvador Alvarado (1916) the division of the cathedral building was authorized. Following the European architectural style parameters of the time, the Pasaje de la Revolución passage was built between the two buildings, with a roof of iron and glass, which was later demolished in the 1940s.
This division marked great changes in the architectural style of the building, now with neoclassical tendencies. The cornices and moldings running the length of the upper part of the façade, with Ionic, Corinthian, and mixed arrangements in the columns and capitals, as well as shields and garlands, accenting the façades with military emblems.
Salvador Alvarado called the building Ateneo, where the public had access to music, literature, and drawing classes. Even today you can read “Ateneo Peninsular” on the façade, below the sculptures of two femenine figures which represent art and progress.
In 1992 the museum project was begun, with the coordination of government sector and private initiative. Under the technical and legal guidance of INAH, the guidelines for the building’s restoration were established. This work was completed in 1993, when the first phase of the formal installation of the museum was initiated. It formally opened its doors on April 29, 1994.
Museo Fernando García Ponce-MACAY
Calle 60 x 61 y 63, Centro
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