The University Museum of Popular Arts hosts a wonderfully full collection of regional works of art. Temporary exhibitions depending on the season or local festivities are always on offer in this magnificent building. It is also usual to find artisans displaying their work to tourists and visitors. Workshops are a common feature of the museum's cultural offering, as are festivals of leather work, carpentry, pottery and other regional crafts. Yet culture is not only manufactured objects. Oral tradition takes pride of place in this museum. To date, around 10% of the Mexican population can’t read or write, so stories transmitted by word of mouth have long played a decisive role in preserving local history and identity.
You'll find the Colima Regional Museum of History right in the main square. The history of the state and the city, from pre-Hispanic settlements to the War of Independence (1810-1821) and the Mexican Revolution (1910) have their own dedicated spaces. Just a few Mexican inhabitants know that Miguel Hidalgo, once a cultured and bohemian priest, spent some time here around 1792; a decade later, he began the War of Independence from Spain and is now known as the “father of our nation”.
Inside this beautiful 19th-century building, discover some astounding hidden aspects of local life. Don’t be surprised to find a hall dedicated to Colima’s volcano, as its activity over the centuries – eruptions, earthquakes, etc. – has brought about breakpoints in the lives of Colima’s inhabitants. Another hall, this time dedicated to a ship, may well be a further surprise. The famous ship, The Nao of China, is a story that's only half true: the ship didn’t come from China, but from the Philippines (don’t forget those islands were part of the Spanish empire). Products from East Asia crossed the ocean to Manzanillo – Colima’s main port – before being transported on mules to Veracruz – the main port on the Gulf of Mexico – to then continue their long journey to Spain. Foreign products and migrants have long marked the character of Colima. Hence this museum as a hall dedicated to this legendary ship and its deep influence on Colima.