MUSEUM CASA NA BOLOM
16 rooms in a
fascinating cultural foundation and museum dedicated to
assisting and protecting the Lacandon people, located in
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
Na Bolom is a Mexican based
non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1951 by
the Danish Archaeologist and explorer Frans Blom and the
Swiss conservationist and photographer Gertrude Duby.
Na Bolom which means “House of the jaguar” in Tzozil is a
beautiful old colonial house with three magical organic
gardens, Na Bolom, was once home to famous Dutch
archaeologist Frans Blom and his wife the Swiss photographer
Gertrude Duby. The Bloms were great explorers and were some
of the first outsiders to come into contact with the
Lacandon Indians hidden in the mist of the dense Lacandon
rain forest of Chiapas. The Lacandones are the only people
who managed to escape Spanish colonization. They lived so
far into the dense jungle that the Spaniards could not
penetrate the vegetation and never found them.
Frans and Trudy established very close friendships with the
Lacandones and decided to turn their large colonial house
into a museum and research centre dedicated to informing
people about the Lacandones while at the same time making it
a place where the Lacandones themselves can stay when they
come to the city to sell their crafts among other things.
Today, Na Bolom is an interactive complex that houses a
museum, a hotel, a cultural center, a research center, a
library, a guest house for the Lacandones and a restaurant;
all of this surrounded by a cultural heritage of national
importance. In addition, it is a place of experimentation
for some of the most important works on the conservation of
the Lacandon Jungle. It also offers lodging in its old
colonial house; each room has its own fireplace, there is a
small library and you can eat at the large banquet table
often shared with a Lacandon family.
Originally built in 1891 to house a religious order, NA
Bolom is located in the community of San Cristobal de las
Casas and the centre operates with a multinational staff of
35 people and an international volunteer program.
NOTE: The proceeds from
the hotel, museum, restaurant and tours go to the
maintenance of the house and the museum; this income helps
to maintain the project of housing the visitors from the
Lacandon communities and the conservation of the cultural
projects and the Lacandon communities. Na Bolom also
organizes several circuits for the guest of the hotel.
tradition initiated by Gertrude Duby, Na Bolom also offers
rooms for common guests. Each one of the 16 rooms is an
extension of the museum, decorated individually with old
furniture, artwork, textiles and photographs from the
indigenous villages of Chiapas .Many rooms are named after a
particular village or archaeological site and they are
decorated with items from that location. Some are named for
the academic institutions which used to participate
regularly in Frans' scholarly conferences in Na Bolom's
facilities and profited of the services that the house
Every room has a private bathroom, fireplace, books, and
many small details about the indigenous people of the
region. Three rooms at Na Bolom are reserved for the
visitors from the Lacandon community. Free rooms and meals
are offered when they are in San Cristobal for activities or
when they need medical attention. They receive this medical
attention through Na Bolom's Lacandon Medical Fund.
Na Bolom offers its guests, as a courtesy, a guided visit in
the museum. The personalized attention creates a warm and
nice environment. The guest can feel free to walk around the
beautiful gardens, take a cup of coffee and read a good book
in the library or have a nice talk with other visitors, at
the same time they exchange experiences.
The types of rooms offered are: Individual, double, triple,
familiar and junior suite. The a la carte breakfast and a
guided visit to the museum are included in the room rates.
There is wireless Internet available in the library and in
the main patio.
dining room offers a large variety of menu options,
complimented with salads prepared from Na Bolom's own
organic vegetables. The marmalade, bread and granola are
especially prepared for the enjoyment of the guests.
The main communal table, with the capacity to seat forty
people, is part of a tradition left by the founders in which
visitors, guests, Lacandones and collaborators of Na Bolom
come together to enjoy delicious dishes and converse at
their pleasure in front of a roaring fire.
Service schedule is from Monday to Sunday:
Served from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm. The scent of freshly-brewed
coffee in the mornings provides a pleasurable atmosphere for
any occasion to come together at Na Bolom.
Served from 1:30 pm to 6:00 pm. (a formal lunch will require
The traditional dinners, served in the Na Bolom style with a
different menu each night, are enjoyed after the bell from
the main patio is rung at 7:00 pm. Reservations are
Na Bolom has several
spaces, indoors as well as outdoors for events and the hotel
manager is at your service to assist you in planning and to
make sure that your event is a success. The following
meeting services are offered: Coffee breaks, breakfast,
lunch and dinner, cafeteria menu, screen, a video projector
and slides projector.
At Na Bolom, your events may range from conferences,
seminars, workshops to personal events. There are special
menus for all the budget levels, and the possibility to hold
your event in the thirty-five person dining room with a
grand imperial dining table; the library, which accommodates
twenty guests; or the beautiful main patio, which has a
capacity of up to two hundred people.
The museum was created
from the Blom's private collection. Presently, there are
five permanent exposition rooms and two temporary exhibit
This ethnographic collection reflects artifacts and
gifts collected from trips the founders made to the Lacandon
jungle. This room allows for an approach to the religion of
the Lacandones through its cultural materials as well as the
elements of daily life.
The trips to the jungle during the first half of the
twentieth century were arduous, and often lasting for many
months. In this room and through the displayed photography
and the video "Men, mules and machetes", the visitor would
be able to understand how the Bloms' expeditions were
This room carries the name of an archaeological site
located at the top of the mountains, two kilometers
(approximately one and a quarter miles) from San Cristobal
de las Casas. This site is considered as one of the most
important ceremonial centers in the valley. Frans Blom
conducted excavations here in 1952 and Dr. Weigant excavated
again in 1953; to date, no other person has carried out
additional excavations at the site. In the exhibit room,
there are examples of ceramics, stone tools as well as
skeletons that demonstrate the funerary customs of the
ancient inhabitants of the valley. Also, we can see here
some fine examples from Frans Blom's various expeditions and
investigations made in the Lacandon Jungle, Oaxaca and other
parts of México. Aside from his work as an explorer and
archaeologist, Frans was also skilled as a cartographer. He
is noted for crafting the first map of the Lacandon Jungle,
which later served as a model for present-day maps.
The Chapel is physically one of the clearest examples of
the neoclassical style constructed in San Cristobal from the
end of the nineteenth century. This style can be observed in
the distinct elements visible in the chapel such as its
columns and the original painting founded on the ceiling and
altar. Although the chapel was never consecrated or used for
religious purposes, it represents a fine location to observe
religious Chiapanecan paintings and sculptures from the
sixteenth to nineteenth centuries.
Duby Blom's Bedroom:
After her death in December 23, 1993, "Trudi's" room was
maintained as a space to display her distinctive suits,
jewelry collection and personal objects.
In the corridors of Na Bolom,
one can appreciate the home's unique as well as diverse art
collection comprised of forged iron crosses and Gertrude
Duby's paintings. In addition, the corridors are adorned by
artwork donated by different artists, one noted example
being the collection of photographs taken of the founder.
The Museum Store "Jardín
del Jaguar" (Garden of the Jaguar) offers alternative
products from Lacandones artisans as well as from other
ethnic groups in the State of Chiapas.
The Store is located in front of the Museum, immersed in a
pleasant garden. In addition to the store itself, there is a
replica of an indigenous house from the highlands zone of
Chiapas that exhibits indigenous articles and embroidered
dresses with exquisite elaboration. The Store shows a part
of the rich artisan history of Chiapas and fulfills the
social function between the product transactions of the
craftsmen who provide it.
The project of the
Garden of the Jaguar has been a test pilot that involves
forms of exhibition of native architecture characteristic of
the region. Each one of these constructions is a
store-museum, an innovating concept in which they exhibit
unique crafts of great quality in a similar form as it would
be done in a museum, and where the visitors can purchase
original Lacandon pieces such as figures carved in wood,
items made of mud, organic jewelry made with seeds, arrows,
basketwork and new products of the different projects on
which they are working. In the first and second stage,
support has come from the German Embassy, the Foundation of
American Express and the World Bank.
Eco- tourism is one
of the most rapidly growing sectors of the tourism industry
in the developed world. Tourists are no longer content to
simply lie on a beach soaking up the sun; they want to learn
about the country they are visiting; its culture, history
and its people and want to feel that in some way or another
they are contributing to the local economy and supporting
cultural and environmental sustainability.
Many of the most attractive destinations for eco-tourism are
in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples. These regions are
often incredibly rich in natural resources and beauty such
as the Natural Biosphere of Monte Azules in Chiapas, Mexico.
The indigenous peoples of these areas live in harmony with
their habitat. The Lacandones who live within Montes Azules,
known as the Lacandon Jungle, rely on the forest for food,
building materials and medicine. Therefore, we need to
respect these habitats creating a type of tourism which will
benefit the local people, provide an unforgettable
experience for the tourists while at the same time reducing
to the maximum any cultural or environmental impact. In
order for eco-tourism to be viable in such areas the local
people must also be well organized and cooperative.
In the name of the founders Frans and Trudy Blom, Na Bolom
has a responsibility to continue to respect and support the
communities of the Lacandon Jungle and to be extremely
conscious that the places visited during tours are not
changed or damaged by the presence of tourists.
At Na Bolom, no particular member of a community is favored;
there is no tipping as this can cause tensions within the
community. Instead, free medical attention is offered to all
Lacandones and supplies are being sent to each community.
Tours to the jungle
Since the beginning of Na Bolom, Trudy offered tours to the
Lacandon jungle as a source of income to continue renovating
the house and to support her various projects. Today There
is a well-developed sustainable tour program aimed at giving
guests and visitors the opportunity to travel in small
groups to the many beautiful locations in the near vicinity.
Na Bolom aims to provide tours which cause minimal cultural
and environmental impact: Small groups, well maintained
vehicles which pollute as little as possible, qualified
guides, safety; a decent living wage to the employees as
well as the local guides who offer their services. When
visiting the Lacandon jungle the name of Na Bolom represents
50 years of friendship with these communities.
The specialty tour is a five day adventure into the least
visited Lacandon community; Naja. The camp area constructed
by the local people as a gift for Trudy is being used. Na
Bolom provides: tents, sleeping mats, food, shelter and
water. You just need a sleeping bag or blanket. For those
who do not like to camp there are also some cabins close to
the camp area where you can sleep in a bed and still enjoy
the home cooked food of Doña Bety, a legend by itself
For more information on the
Cultural Association Na Bolom visit
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