The British Museum is to host exhibition on the last elected Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma II. Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler completes the museum’s series of exhibitions exploring power and empire and is the first exhibition to examine the semi-mythical status of Moctezuma and his legacy today.
Opening on 24th September 2009, the exhibition anticipates the anniversaries in 2010 of the Independence of Mexico (1810) and of the Mexican Revolution (1910) and will include items loaned from Mexico and Europe, most being shown in the UK for the first time.
Moctezuma (reigned 1502–1520) inherited and then consolidated Aztec control over a politically complex empire that by the early 16th century stretched from the shores of Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. Moctezuma was regarded as a semi- divine figure by his subjects charged with the task of interceding with the gods. As a battle-hardened general he was appointed supreme military commander and headed the two most prestigious warriors orders: the eagle and jaguar warriors. He was elected as Ruling Lord (huey tlatoani) in 1502, built a new palace in the heart of Tenochtitlan (modern day Mexico City) and restructured the court. The arrival of the Spanish, during Moctezuma’s reign, witnessed the collapse of the native world order and the imposition of a new civilization that gave birth to modern Mexico.
Launching the exhibition British Museum Director, Neil MacGregor commented: “The artistic achievements of the Aztecs astonished the Spanish and rest of the world, and have continued to wield a huge influence on Mexican art. Moctezuma is the last in our series on great rulers and their legacies and presents perhaps one of the most fascinating examples of implosion of power and the clash of civilisations. We are very grateful for the support of ArcelorMittal in making this exhibition possible.”
The exhibition is being supported by ArcelorMittal, CEO Lakshmi Mittal said: “Our business in Mexico was our first international acquisition in 1992 and is very important to the Group. I personally have spent considerable time in Mexico and have always felt a strong affiliation to the country and its people. This sponsorship reflects this strong commitment and also the respect we have for the culture that has allowed our business to flourish. We are delighted to be partnering with such a globally renowned cultural institution as the British Museum, which enables so many people to experience the heritage and culture of many different nations.”