In this intriguing and much-needed study, Miruna Achim historicizes the founding of Mexico's National Museum in the period between the end of the War of Independence (1821) and the Porfirian era (1876–1911). In a clear and concise fashion, Achim tells us that her goal, inspired by Irina Podgorny's work on museums in Argentina, was to write the history of the formation of the National Museum without becoming entangled in grand narratives of nationalism. This makes Achim's work sharply distinct from much of the literature about the museum's role in the Porfirian era, which consistently emphasizes the ways in which the national ideology dominated the institution and tends to incorporate the story of the museum into the larger story of Mexican nationalism. Achim's book, in contrast, covers the lengthy and previously underresearched period in which the museum's identity, purpose, and future were constantly...

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