Murales del Congreso (Congress Murals) – Chetumal, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Murales del Congreso (Congress Murals)

Palacio Legislativo
Chetumal, Mexico

A bright, colorful telling of the history of Mexico's youngest state.  


These murals, painted on the walls and ceiling of the State Congress and titled Forma, Color e Historia de Quintana Roo (Form, Color and History of Quintana Roo) and Ley (Law), were painted by local artist Vital Jesús “Elio” Carmichael. Commissioned by the state government of Quintana Roo, they were painted in 1978, a mere four years after the foundation of this state. Carmichael was born near Chetumal, in the town of Payo Obispo, in 1935, when the territory was still part of Yucatán.

Ley, the ceiling mural, features a naked male figure before a book labeled Lex (“law” in Latin) and a spiral representation of humanity following all types of laws, from natural to legal, throughout history. Forma occupies the walls and is a brightly colored telling of the history of the state, starting with the creation myth of the Popol-Vuh, the Maya mythology, and continuing through Maya history to the arrival of the Spanish.

Cecilio Chi and Jacinto Pat, key figures of the Caste Wars, follow, and then the foundation of the state, with its original seven municipalities and the state seal, also created by Carmichael. The hurricanes that routinely hit Quintana Roo also appear here, with the destruction caused by Janet, and the reconstruction after. With these and other works, Carmichael is considered one of Quintana Roo’s most important artists.

The state’s highest official artistic honor is named after Carmichael, and following his passing in 2014, a bust bearing his likeness was unveiled in the Hall of the Congress, surrounded by one of his most iconic oeuvres. 

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