Marimbas are wooden percussion instruments similar to xylophones. Although African in origin, many of its modern modifications have their roots in Mexico. The instrument made its way to Mexico from enslaved Africans.
The Maya people took a particular liking to the instrument, improving its sound with the addition of gourds as resonators. The marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala and widely popular in Mexican states with Maya populations. Chief among these is probably Chiapas and the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
In central Tuxtla, visitors will find the Parque de la Marimba, a city square with a central gazebo where marimba recitals can be heard several times a day. Inside a building opposite the park is the Marimba Museum.
Opened in 2006, the museum displays around 15 marimbas, the oldest of which was created in 1917. An interactive hall allows visitors to interact with digital marimba displays showing the differences caused by distinct types of builds and woods. The Hall of Fame celebrates noted marimbistas from around the world, highlighting the late Chiapanec virtuoso Zeferino Nandayapa. An audio library of notable marimba compositions completes the museum’s collection.
Know Before You Go
The museum opens from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Entrance cost is MXN $10, free on Sundays.