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Cincinnati Museum Center Reopens Soon: Preview 5 New Exhibits

MUNAE, Guatemala / Courtesy of Cincinnati Museum Center

Discoveries over the past few decades have changed our understanding of the Maya civilization. An exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center explores hundreds of years of culture and innovation.

Maya: The Exhibition includes more than 300 objects from clay and stucco figurines as well as intricate jewelry, stone carvings, tools and interactive elements. The public finally gets a chance to explore the traveling exhibit when the Cincinnati Museum Center reopens July 17. Members can get in early, starting July 10.

Scroll down for details on two new permanent exhibits and two temporary exhibitions.

Guatemala Vice Minister of Culture and Sports Eleuterio Cahuec del Valle hopes people will learn about the Maya's contribution to areas like art, science and technology.

"One of the main importance of this is the intercultural exchange that we can have," he told WVXU through an interpreter. "We also need to know that the Maya civilization has a past, a present and a future."

All of the artifacts come from Guatemala, including some two-ton standing stones, or stela.

"Every piece is important," del Valle says. "Every piece has something to tell. You must think about what was happening when they were made - there's a spiritual and emotional connection that they have to us."

The Maya civilization was at its peak in 600 AD but dates back to 2000 BC.

"The innovations and influence of the Maya are prevalent in our everyday lives," explains Elizabeth Pierce, Cincinnati Museum Center CEO. "The 365-day calendar, advancements in mathematics, discovery of chocolate, their agricultural techniques and management of land and water resources... the ancient Maya still have many things to teach us and we will learn from them to help us build a better future."

Millions of descendants in Central America speak a Mayan language, and entire regions of countries in Guatemala, Mexico and Belize strongly assert and maintain their Maya ethnic identities. The exhibit seeks to tell their stories, as well.

Included in the experience is work being done by the University of Cincinnati at Maya sites in Central America. The exhibit is scheduled to run through Jan 3, 2021.

The 100th Anniversary Of Women's Suffrage

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Voter rolls from 1919 and 1920. "50,3077 local women registered to vote in the November 1920 presidential election."

The 19th Amendment was ratified Aug. 18, 1920, giving many - though not all - women the right to vote. An Unfinished Revolution: Women and the Vote explores the fight for women's suffrage. It includes several documents from the museum's collection as well as images and graphics detailing the movement then and as it evolved beyond the 1920s.

Cody Hefner, senior director of marketing and communications, says the exhibit includes efforts from the 1950s and '60s to expand suffrage during the Civil Rights movement.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
The 19th Amendment didn't give all women the vote. The exhibit details the ongoing quest for universal suffrage.

"To make sure that people not only could legally vote but they truly had access to polling places ... there were no more polling taxes, no more polling tests, no more voter suppression, but that's something that's still ongoing. It tells that story of how women were also at the forefront of that effort and other individuals who were at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement to try to make sure that everyone truly had an equal voice in our government and in our country."

The exhibit runs through Sept. 27, 2020.

Honoring Charley Harper As Earth Day Turns 50

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Charley Harper's artwork is distinctive and so were his environmental protection efforts.

Cincinnati's beloved artist Charley Harper was well-known for his geometric style, but he was also an ardent supporter of the environment. Earth Day marked its 50th anniversary in April and the Cincinnati Museum Center thought this a fitting year to honor Harper as the 2020 John A. Ruthven Medal of Distinction recipient.

Inspired by Nature: The Art and Activism of Charley Harper features 30 paintings and the accompanying stories Harper penned, along with a celebration of his activism.

"With each of his paintings he also included this short story that was fun and quippy but also had some serious warning about the environmental impacts humans were having on the planet," Hefner explains. "Reading the stories that accompany these paintings that you've seen on a building, on a tote bag, on a mug (or) postcard, puts it into a new perspective and gives you a new perspective on Harper as an individual and as the activist that he was."

Most of the works come from the museum's collection, though several are on loan from private collectors. The exhibit runs through Nov. 8, 2020.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
"Alone in a birch grove in an early, unexpected snow—a serendipitous moment you'll always treasure." Thus begins Harper's narrative about this work, "Bear in the Birches."

Two New Exhibits In The Cincinnati History Museum

Two new permanent exhibits also come online in July with the opening of Shaping Our City and You Are Here in the Cincinnati History Museum.

The first looks at how various forms of transportation from rivers to rail and roads have shaped and been shaped by the region's geography, connecting some while dividing others.

"You think of the West End and I-75 plowing straight through and displacing this large Black community in Cincinnati," Hefner explains. "What does that mean and what are the implications going forward with new pieces of transportation technology coming online? Is it connecting our city or is it further dividing it?"

The second exhibit, You Are Here, is broken into three themes looking at what defines Cincinnati as a place to live, work and play. The museum says it "includes a news desk where guests can read historic news stories, a Cincinnati-themed quiz and a mural studio inspired by and developed with ArtWorks," along with family photos submitted by the public and a look at the local sports, food and culture scenes.

Cincinnati Museum Center Coronavirus Precautions

The museum center is limiting capacity to about 25% during the pandemic. Face coverings are required. Timed tickets are required for general admission and it's recommend you acquire them online and in advance. Social distancing markers have been added in areas that tend to be crowded and to direct traffic flow, the museum says. Hand sanitation stations are available and there is no health screening so you should stay home if you aren't feeling well and your tickets may be refunded or exchanged.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.