Exhibition Details

Location: Steele Gallery
Dates: October 6, 2018
to January 27, 2019


Closing Day
SundayJanuary 27
 Noon–5 pm 

Teotihuacan was the first, largest, and most influential metropolis on the American continent. In its heyday between 100 BCE and 650 CE, the city encompassed an area of 20 square kilometers with a population of more than 150,000. Both the inhabitants of Teotihuacan, its original name, and why the city was abandoned around 650 CE are still unknown. When the Aztecs, coming from the north in the first half of the 14th century, discovered its abandoned ruins on the Mexican Central Plateau, they named it Teotihuacan, the place where gods were born, and used it as the setting for their own creation myth.

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire is a major traveling exhibition organized by the de Young Museum in San Francisco in collaboration with the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico. With more than 200 outstanding objects from the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire will provide a comprehensive insight into the art, everyday life, and religion of Teotihuacan, and its influence on other regions of Mexico. The exhibition will explore the archaeological history of the city through sculptures, friezes and murals; domestic objects including vessels and figures, stone carvings, masks, statues of gods and representations of animals; and extraordinary objects crafted out of precious materials including jade, obsidian, greenstone, and onyx.

Over the course of the exhibition, Phoenix Art Museum will partner with Arizona State University and its world-class archaeology faculty to create community-wide, all-ages programs to enhance visitors’ experience of these World Heritage archaeological treasures, on view for the first time in the state of Arizona. 


Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Secretaría de Cultura through the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México. This exhibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


The Phoenix premiere of Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire is made possible through the generosity of The Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation, supported by BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and the J.W. Kieckhefer Foundation.  Additional support is provided by The Selz Foundation, Inc., The Craig and Barbara Barrett Foundation, Margaret T. Morris Foundation, SRP, The Tony & Milena Astorga Foundation, APS, an anonymous donor, Jane and Mal Jozoff, and Jo Brandt.



With illustrations of objects from Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropología and from the museums and storage facilities of the Zona de Monumentos Arqueológicos de Teotihuacan, along with selected works from US and European collections, the catalogue examines these cultural artifacts to understand the roles that offerings of objects and programs of monumental sculpture and murals throughout the city played in the lives of Teotihuacan’s citizens.






Lecture Series
Featuring archeologists, art historians, and curators who have worked extensively on the site and whose artifacts can be seen in the exhibition.

Sacred Animals Sacred Places Ritualized Landscapes at Teotihuacan                     
December 8, 2018  |  12 pm 

SOLD OUT: The Art of Teotihuacan
January 26, 2019  |  12:30 pm 


Indigenous Astronomy Lecture and Workshop
December 12, 2018  |  12:30 pm 

Family Workshop for Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire
January 19, 2019  |  10:30 am–12 pm (ages 4-7) and 2–4pm (ages 8-12)

Drawing inspiration from the exhibition, artists Martin Moreno and Edgar Fernandez collaborated with Discount Tire Free Family Sunday participants to create a special installation in Wolfswinkel Education Center Gallery. The gallery is free and open to the public.    
December 5, 2018  |  5:30 pm
On view through January 27, 2019.                                       
Monday to Friday | 8 am–5 pm                                                           
Closed on weekends* 
*Open on Sunday, December 9 and January 13 from noon–5 pm for Discount Tire Free Family Sunday.


Free for Museum Members, Militaryand youth aged 5 and under.


General Admission:
$23 — Adults
$20 — Senior Citizens (Ages 65+)
$18 — Students (with ID) 
— Children (Ages 6-17)

All exhibitions and installations are included with General Admission. 

This special-engagement exhibition is offered to the general public for $5 during voluntary-donation, pay-what-you-wish hours from 3–9 pm each Wednesday, from 6–10 pm on the first Friday of each month, and from noon–5 pm on the second Sunday of each month.


Interested in coming as a group? For group sales information, click here. 


Media images and credit lines: Download here
Comunicado de prensa
(Español): Descargar aquí
Press Release (English): Download here
Media Contact: Margaree Bigler, Marketing and Communications Manager, margaree.bigler@phxart.org 


Eccentric, 200–250. Obsidian. Zona de Monumentos Arqueológicos de Teotihuacán / INAH [Acervo]. Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara Elías, © INAH.

Mexico, Anahuac, Teotihuacan, Moon Pyramid. (Photo by: Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images)

Circular relief, 300–450. Stone. Museo Nacional de Antropología / INAH. Archivo Digital de las Colecciones del Museo Nacional de Antropología / INAH-CANON.

Incensario, 350-450. Ceramic, mica, and mineral pigments. Zona de Monumentos Arqueológicos de Teotihuacán / INAH. Image courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Standing figure, 200–250. Greenstone. Zona de Monumentos Arqueológicos de Teotihuacán / INAH [Proyecto Tlalocan]. Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara Elías, © INAH.