General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 8 May 2021/9 Flower
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‘Aztecs’ exhibition material, Royal Academy 2002-3

Mexicolore at the Royal Academy

Mexicolore was heavily involved in delivering the educational programme for schools at the Royal Academy, supporting the pioneering and hugely popular exhibition ‘Aztecs’ (2002-3). Several hundred thousand visitors from all over Britain visited Aztecs. There were huge queues on the very last day, Friday April 11th 2003 when the gallery was kept open specially till 11.30 pm.

‘Last Night of the Aztecs’...
‘Last Night of the Aztecs’... (Click on image to enlarge)

In a spectacular finale at midnight, the Mexican dance troupe Calli performed a 15-minute pre-Hispanic fire ceremony in front of an audience of hundreds in the RA courtyard. The performance was heralded by our 15-year-old son Phillip Mursell, who played a lone haunting Aztec rhythm on a giant huehuetl vertical drum high up on the RA library balcony. Spotlighted in red and amplified, the sound reverberated round the courtyard as the audience gathered: in the words of the RA Marketing Officer, Phil’s drumming set the scene “... with presence, dignity and ever-increasing excitement as the volume and tempo rose, which was just right for the occasion”.

Mexicolore’s RA workshops were heavily over-subscribed
Mexicolore’s RA workshops were heavily over-subscribed (Click on image to enlarge)

Annie Harris, Head of Education at the RA, described our team’s involvement in ‘Aztecs’: ‘[Mexicolore] conducted a series of 20 remarkable, interactive workshops for primary school children. These focused on the history of the Aztecs, their customs, beliefs and everyday lives. Using slides, artefacts, music, costumes and demonstrations, Ian and Graciela brought to life the Aztec world. The fast paced workshops gave children and adults a memorable, entertaining and educational insight into this ancient culture. The workshop space was full of colour and fascinating textiles, facsimile codices and artefacts collected over many years. I recommend Mexicolore very highly indeed.’

Phillip Mursell plays out ‘Aztecs’ at the Royal Academy...
Phillip Mursell plays out ‘Aztecs’ at the Royal Academy... (Click on image to enlarge)

To the team itself Annie wrote afterwards: ‘We considered ourselves incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity of working with you both at the Royal Academy. You were an inspirational addition to our Aztec programme and I hope you have success wherever you go to promote Aztec culture...’

Picture sources:-
• Photos of Mexicolore workshops by Sarah Knowler
• Photos of the Last Night of the Aztecs by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

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