Papalote Musuem in Cuernavaca Mexico is Worth TWO Visits

Cuernavaca’s “Papalote” Museum: A Family Experience that’s Fun for Children of all Ages (and their Parents)

By Patricia Patton © Patricia Patton 2009

I took my three boys to Papalote Cuernavaca, the new children’s museum, the other day, and it was amazing. The staff was so friendly and helpful, and the exhibits were able to captivate a preschooler, an eight year old, and an 11 year old (as well as their mother!) There was an impressive range of activities, from a climbing room filled with tires suspended from the ceiling and spiderweb-like cords criss-crossing every which way to a giant iPod you can climb inside to quiet and inviting corners filled with good books. There was an ongoing game that had my boys traveling back and forth throughout the museum, treasure-hunt style, and a traveling exhibit featuring amazing puppets as well as a workshop where you could make your own puppet. One of my boys’ favorite rooms was focused on architecture, with enormous images of famous buildings, ancient and modern, projected on the wall, and more legos than any child could hope for available to construct amazing structures. They also loved the giant piano you could play with your feet, an enormous Simon game built into a wall, and a real bed of nails that the older two were able to lie down on (with lots of supervision by museum staff and helpers, of course).

The whole place, inside and out, is decorated with fun murals and art, some of which is obviously professional and some of which was created by kids. Even the bathrooms have cute pictures painted on the walls (as well as child-friendly stools to help my four year old reach the sinks). There are special workshops and activities daily (some of which are listed on the website), although we didn’t have a chance to participate in any of those.

The museum has a self-service baggage check with lockers to stash your bags. The lockers are free; you only have to present some form of ID at the welcome desk to get a key. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week except Mondays. Admission is only $35 pesos (currently about $3 American) per person. Babies under 6 months get in for free, but everyone else needs a paid ticket. We spent about two and a half hours there, which seemed just about perfect. It was enough time to see almost everything, linger over our favorites, and still leave before my preschooler got over-tired and had a meltdown. The museum is located in the former Muros modern art museum building, right across the parking lot from Costco and Mega. As the museum is still new, our taxi driver hadn’t heard of it, but once I gave him those landmarks, he took us there without a problem.

We’re here in Cuernavaca for another few weeks, and I am positive we will be making a return trip before we leave town.

A Few Additional Notes from the Author of Mexico: The Trick is Living Here

Papalote” is Spanish for “Kite”

Parking or Getting There by Bus

Don’t worry about parking, because there is plenty available. To get to the museum, enter the parking lot from any of the three Mega Commercial/Costco entrances. The museum is to the left of the California restaurant as you face it from the parking lot. There are a plethora of buses that will get you to the three entrances including any routes that say Plaza (for Plaza Cuernavaca, the mall almost directly across the street from one of the parking lot entrances) on them, as well as the 2 and 7 that say Tunel (enter near the grocery store named “Mega”), and the 18 (enter near the hospital).

Some History: How Community Activists Helped Create this Musuem

Before it was taken over by Papalote, this musuem was called Muros (or “Walls” in Spanish). The musuem was a community success story because it was first conceived as a kind of olive branch. It is situated to one side of a large grocery store/parking lot complex developed on the site of what had previously been the Casino de la Selva. Casino de la Selva (Jungle Casino) was a distinctive entertainment location at the heart of today’s Cuernavaca since the 1930s. It was surrounded by tall walls and had fallen into severe disrepair over the years since its closing. For many years, only trespassers saw the grounds inside the walls, but the thick tree canopy on the property was obvious to all who passed by. When construction began on the property, many Cuernavacan’s were outraged that two huge grocery stores, a restaurant, and extensive parking lot would replace the Casino and its trees. Long, intense protests were staged to try to stop the development and suggestions were made that the property would better serve the community as a park. In the end, the grocery store chain was allowed to develop the site, but the idea of the community center was generated as a way to try to respond to the community outcry.

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