The Museo de la Marimba

by Jed Herrmann

What do a Macintosh Classic II computer, a soccer trophy, a tube of Chinese toothpaste, and some colonial-era pistols have in common?

Obviously, they are all artifacts in Xela’s very own Museo de la Marimba Jesus Castillo.

As you might have guessed, the museum, which shares the Casa de Cultura with the Natural History Museum and the Municipal Historical Archives, has surprisingly little to do with the marimba or Jesus Castillo (who you all surely know is a famous marimba player from Xela- thanks Google).

This seemingly random collection of items led me to ask the curator some questions about the collection.

Me (pointing to the impressive display of 1980’s era computer equipment): How did the museum acquire this?

Curator: Well, it doesn’t work so the University donated it (pointing to a sign commemorating University Rafael Landivar’s 2004 donation- which makes you wonder if they were using these computers between the end of their usable life, in 1984, and 2004)

Me: Do you just accept any item that someone wants to donate?

Curator: No, not anything, it has to be old.

Me: What about the modern Tigo cell phone displayed here?

Curator: That was found upstairs, someone brought it down so we put it in the case.

Me: If the owner came and wanted the phone back, they could have it?

Curator: Yes, we’re keeping it here for them (probably of one the few museums that also doubles as a lost and found)

Me: And what about this tube of toothpaste (pointing to a tiny, half-used tube of airline travel toothpaste with Asian characters on the side)?

Curator: This is a small tube of Chinese toothpaste. We also accept items that you don’t see everyday.

In addition to the above items, the museum has rooms dedicated to faded books, historical photographs (which actually look interesting thought it’s hard to tell as they are mounted 12 feet high), old sports trophies and, finally, way in the back, a room sparsely filled with marimba memorabilia.

If you love random museums or just need to get rid of (um, donate) some items before getting out of town, then a visit to the Museo de Marimba is for you. And all this isn’t even mentioning the treasures in Natural History Museum or Municipal Historical Archive (stay tuned in coming months for more on these cultural wonders)…

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