The Teatro de la República in Querétaro, a building that played a prominent role in the history of Mexico, will now be known as the National Museum of the Constitution.
Originally known as the Teatro Iturbide, the building opened in 1852 and two years later became one of several venues where the national anthem was played for the first time.
In December 1916, the constituent congress edited the country’s current constitution in the building.
Twelve years later, it hosted a political convention at which the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), precursor of today’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was born.
Since then, the venue has hosted plays and concerts and even boxing matches and cock fights.
More recently a private foundation owned the theater and rented it to the government of Querétaro for 60,000 pesos (US $2,900) a month.
When the owners made it known they wished to sell, legislators in the Senate decided to pay the 100-million-peso purchase price and create a museum dedicated to the country’s constitutional history.
The Senate invested an additional 30 million pesos in refurbishing the historic theater. Operation of the museum will be funded by both public and private resources and managed by the Center of Constitutional Studies.
There were a couple of surprises for Senators in the process of buying the building.
The first was discovering that the venue was in the hands of a private owner. Later, they found they had wrongly believed that the constitution had been enacted there.
Attracting younger generations was kept in mind during the planning of the theater’s remodeling, which led to the creation of an innovative digital museum.
It will offer “what young people like most, a virtual hall with three-dimensional recreations that make use of all this new technology, with augmented reality, everything that the new generations like,” said Patricia Galeana, director of the National Institute of the Historic Study of Mexico’s Revolutions.
The intention, she explained, was to strengthen youths’ national identity and make them feel proud to be Mexican.
The Senate will take full ownership of the theater tomorrow on the 100th anniversary of the promulgation of the constitution.
The president of the Senate told the newspaper Milenio that while the country finds itself facing an economic crisis, 100 million pesos was not expensive.
“I do not think it pricey to remember the history of the people that edited the constitution,” said Pablo Escudero Morales.
“In the Senate we’ve been legislating with our sights on the future, with great reforms [whose results] will be seen in five, 10, 15 or 20 years.”
“We had the opportunity to make a stop on our way and look back to the place where we come from . . . that’s not expensive,” said Escudero.
Andrés Garrido, a chronicler of the history of Querétaro, said “those were the Senate’s best spent 100 million pesos.”
Source: Milenio (sp)