Buffeted by an “austere” federal administration that in 2020 slashed budgets for many scientific endeavors—making them scramble to cover even electricity and staff uniforms—the paleontological, anthropological, historical and cultural Museo Regional de Guadalajara has spent two years picking up the pieces after the funding and pandemic debacles.
But pick up the pieces it has, renovating some of its 13 rooms on two levels, which had been closed even before the pandemic, and even adding exhibits as the museum struggles to recover the level of visitors it previously had. Taking up an entire block, the graceful facility boasts an enviable location adjacent to tourist magnets such as the Guadalajara Cathedral, the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres and the Degollado Theater. Built as a seminary in 1742 of green cantera stone, it now houses a collection extending from prehuman to colonial times—and even including an impressive exhibition of handmade books created by current students at the nearby University of Guadalajara school of fine arts.
Although the Museo Regional is no Disneyland, there is buzz here, and it revolves around the imposing fossilized mammoth displayed in a ground floor salon and surrounded by skulls and other bones of the prehistoric saber-toothed tiger, bear, horse, sloth and armadillo—none of which you would want to run into during some time travel—as well as ancient arrowheads, and a huge, impressive poster. All of this has enough ga-ga power to draw its share of teenage boys, some of whom are inspired to declare that the museum “vale la pena” (literally, “is worth the pain,” telling you something about the interests of teenage boys).