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General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 23 Jun 2017/11 Snake
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Aztec stone fish sculpture

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Professor Andrew Laird

Why did the people not name Mexico after the Maya instead of after the Mexica/Aztecs? asked Allenbourn Middle School. Read what Professor Andrew Laird had to say.

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Article suitable for older students

Royal Academy Aztecs brochure

How ‘Eagle Man’ has changed Britain’s museums

Dea Birkett, founder of Kids in Museums and a well-known writer, journalist, commentator, reviewer and contributor to The Guardian and Radio 4, has kindly written this article specially for us.

Dea Birkett with son River
Dea Birkett with son River (Click on image to enlarge)

It all began at the Aztec exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. I’d taken all my family – three kids, including two-year-old twins – out there on a rainy Saturday. The twins were strapped in their double buggy admiring the fantastical Aztec art. As we stood in front of Eagle Man – with a big wide beak where his head should be – the youngest shouted, ‘Monster! Monster!’ I was thrilled. Only two years old and responding to Aztec imagery! But as I, a proud mum, bent down and whispered in his ear, ‘Yes, he looks just like a monster ... ’ a room warden walked towards us. ‘You’ll have to leave,’ she said. ‘You’re being far too noisy.’ And threw us out.

Kids in Museums hero Eagle Man - at home in the Templo Mayor Museum, Mexico City
Kids in Museums hero Eagle Man - at home in the Templo Mayor Museum, Mexico City (Click on image to enlarge)

Shamefacedly, we left, heads hung low, the twins winging and whining all the way home. They wanted to stay and see more Aztec art and talk some more to Eagle Man.

The Guardian reports the launch of Kids in Museums, March 2009
The Guardian reports the launch of Kids in Museums, March 2009 (Click on image to enlarge)

The room warden didn’t know what she had started. I’m a Guardian writer, and two days later I wrote a piece in the newspaper about being thrown out of the Aztec exhibition. By the end of that day, I’d had over 500 emails from other families saying they were fed up with how they’re treated in museums and galleries. They demanded something be done. So we founded Kids in Museums, now an independent charity of which I am Director. Today, we work with museums – including the Royal Academy – to ensure that everyone, of every age, gets a very warm welcome.

Exploring the roles of Eagle and Jaguar Warriors in a Mexicolore workshop, Woodstock CE Primary School, Oxon, December 2005
Exploring the roles of Eagle and Jaguar Warriors in a Mexicolore workshop, Woodstock CE Primary School, Oxon, December 2005 (Click on image to enlarge)

Earlier this year, we launched the 2009 Kids in Museums Manifesto - 20 ways to make a museum family friendly. On the list of points is, ‘Don’t say sssshhush! Museums are places for families to chat, have conversations and discuss.’ And that’s exactly what my two-year-old was doing with Eagle Man. He was looking at him, responding to him and – yes – shouting at him. How much better for him to be doing that than being pushed past in his buggy without saying a single word, without noticing the art around him.

One of Quentin Blake’s illustrations for the Kids in Museums website
One of Quentin Blake’s illustrations for the Kids in Museums website

So, thanks to the Aztecs, more and more children and families will be welcome in Britain’s museums and galleries. I bet not even Eagle Man, with all his magical powers, imagined he would achieve that ...

Aztec eagle warrior figure in jade and silver (private collection)
Aztec eagle warrior figure in jade and silver (private collection) (Click on image to enlarge)

Mexicolore supports the Manifesto! To find out more about Kids in Museums, download a Kids in Museums Manifesto and contribute to our discussion boards, go to www.kidsinmuseum.org.uk (link below).

Photo sources:-
• Photo of Dea Birkett with son River courtesy Dea Birkett
• Photos of Eagle Man, Templo Mayor Museum, Eagle Warrior model and school workshop by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore
• Quentin Blake illustration courtesy Kids in Museums

Kids in Museums website

http://www.deabirkett.com/

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: Well, the Eagle Man figure is ‘owned’ by the Mexican nation and his home is the Templo Mayor museum in Mexico City. He’s made of terra-cotta, BTW, not stone. And the silver-and-jade figure belongs to Mexicolore; eagle warriors were called Cuacuauhtin, but we call ours Henry...