Culture of Cabo: A Q and A with Director of the Cabo San Lucas Museum of Natural History
Part Three of Three Parts
What are some of the issues, and what can be done to upgrade the current collection?
Ideally, a museum should operate with 50 percent of its space for exhibition items and 50 percent for visitor services and museum needs. Our museum is very small and does not meet all of the legal criteria necessary for a more serious collection. My hope, indeed my intention, is to create a larger museum and to dedicate this current space to the early history of Cabo San Lucas.
How much more is known now about the indigenous peoples of the Baja California peninsula than was known 50 years ago?
From 1973 to date there have been studies made in La Paz and on Isla Espíritu Santo, but no real studies of note down here. There is a photographer of regional cave paintings, however, who has done some valuable work. I highly recommend his book Mensajes desde el olvido (Messages from the Forgotten). These pictures seem to be older than the commonly known cave paintings.
I’ve heard that Cerro del Vigía (the high point, 560’, of the half-mile Land’s End headland) used to be a tradional Pericú burial ground. Any truth to this rumor?
Cerro del Vigía was almost certainly a sort of sun worshipping temple for the Pericúes. And yes, there were bodies buried in caves there. Local people over 60 years of age still remember seeing bodies there. At some point about 50 years ago, however, the remains were stolen. And since they weren’t able to be scientifically evaluated, we don’t know whether they were Pericúes or sailors from a later time.
It seems to me that the old tuna cannery, which was once the center of commerce here, would also make a great museum. Perhaps a fishing museum. Has there been any talk along those lines?
There are local fishermen that would definitely like to see that happen. In fact, the former owner left a final will and testament to that effect: that it should be a museum. A few pictures have gone up, but so far there has been minimal effort.
I have a couple of quick history questions. There seems to be some debate over who was the first to actually live–to build a permanent dwelling–in Cabo San Lucas proper. Was the founder of the community Thomas Ritchie, Cipriano Ceseña or someone else?
It was Cipriano Ceseña.
When was the old Catholic church across the street (Parroquia San Lucas Evangelista) built?
During the 1950s.
How about the town square which houses the museum? How long has it been named for Amelia Wilkes?
It was constructed in 1947. The flag pole front, for instance, dates to that time. The plaza was named in honor of local teacher and political figure Amelia Wilkes in 1987. You can actually see her old house from here (points up Hidalgo Street). There have been other changes since then, of course.
Are there any changes planned for the museum, any new changes or programs on the horizon?
There is a new exhibit showing the life of the indigenous inhabitants, the Pericúes, that we’re working on…and some other things. We always have programs for local schoolchildren. This site, in fact, used to house a school.
Plus, we are hoping to eventually expand. Stay tuned for announcements at our 10th anniversary, which takes place this October. We invite everyone to join us for that celebration.
Thank you so much for the time and information.
You are very welcome
The Museo de Historia Natural de Cabo San Lucas is located at Plaza Amelia Wilkes, between Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas and Francisco Madero, and Calles Miguel Hidalgo and Cabo San Lucas. It is open Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., and donations of at least $1 are appreciated. For more information, call (624) 105-0661.
Article by Chris Sands, Cabo San Lucas
*Translation by Daniella Coria.
*Photos courtesy of Ignacio Padilla.