Mexico pays 1m pounds to put its treasures on show

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The Independent Online
THE MEXICAN government is to finance a permanent exhibition of ancient Mexican and central American art in London. It will cost at least pounds 1m.

The exhibition will form part of the British Museum, and will consist of hundreds of rare antiquities - most of which, though owned by the museum, have never gone on permanent public display before.

Only about 12 out of 6,000 items are on display now. About 1,000 objects in the museum's Mexican collection are of top exhibition quality, and several hundred will go on display late next year.

The agreement to finance the exhibition will be signed in Mexico today by British Museum and Mexican officials.

The proposed Mexican region gallery is likely to cover 10 civilisations - including the 3,200- year-old Olmecs, the 3,000-year- old early central Mexican culture, the Teotihuacan empire, the Maya, the Huastecs, the Mixtecs and the Aztecs.

The British Museum's holding of Mexican antiquities is the third best in the world, after Mexico City and Berlin, and includes many important sculptures, jades, manuscripts and ceramics.

Among the outstanding objects are an eighth-century throne decorated with portraits of 20 Maya kings; 25 Olmec jades; a collection of ancient Mexican manuscripts; the world's largest collection outside Mexico of 14th- century Huastec statues, each 4ft (1.2m) high; the world's finest Maya sculpture (depicting royal ceremonies); 14th-century Mixtec gold filigree jewellery; and the world's greatest collection of 15th-century Aztec turquoise mosaic masks and animal effigies.

The collection also includes 450 19th-century casts of ancient Maya sculpture - including a life-size replica of a 120ft 12th- century sculpted frieze.

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