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A bright light in Mexico City’s historic centre

Museo de la LuzBy James Dacey in Mexico City

When you visit an unfamiliar city, you can often discover some hidden gems by just wandering the streets with your eyes wide open. This is what happened to Physics World editor Matin Durrani and me yesterday here in Mexico City when we stumbled across the Museo de la Luz (Museum of Light) in the backstreets of the historic city centre.

Located in an old Jesuit college with a beautiful courtyard, the exhibits are spread over three floors covering a wide spectrum of themes, from human vision to the history of the theories of light. What I loved about the place is that it really did offer something for everyone. Too often I find that museums can be great for kids or great for the type of serious adult who loves to leaf through tea-stained archives. El Museo de la Luz manages to hit a sweet spot, being informative and interactive but not too whizz-bang – that is certainly not what I needed yesterday with this jetlag!

Museo de la LuzThe picture above was taken in a downstairs gallery, which has a special art collection for the International Year of Light (IYL2015). Velocidad Lux featured paintings, video and installations that merge the science and the art of light. Admittedly that part was quite high brow, but I equally enjoyed the kaleidoscopes, optical illusions and animal exhibitions in some of the other galleries. There were also plenty of museum assistants on hand giving demonstrations to the kids (see image right), including one I heard about why the eye wells up with tears while chopping onions.

Matin and I are in Mexico on a fact-finding mission for a special report on Mexican physics to be published in September. Today we’re heading to the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), one of the largest universities in the world. Among others, we’ll be meeting Ana María Cetto, the physics researcher who founded the Museo de la Luz. Stay tuned to this blog for more updates from our adventure.

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