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Olmec Head Number 8

Gifted by the government of Veracruz, Mexico, this colossal stone replica greets and educates visitors to the Field Museum of Natural History.

Possibly one of the most recognizable artifacts of early Mesoamerican civilization, Olmec Head Number 8 stands proud as a symbol of the great societies of North America’s past. The original statue stands outside a museum in Veracruz, Mexico. In 2000, this replica was installed on the east side of the Field Museum of Natural History to demonstrate to all visitors the very large scale of these stone artifacts. Let the stylized face whisk you into a new world of understanding of human history.

Walk toward the head down Chicago’s lakeside promenade. It may surprise you the first time you spot its eyes gazing across the Field Museum’s lawn. As you approach, note the sheer size. It weighs 1,700 pounds (770 kilograms). Picture the incredibly massive block of stone that was used to make the sculpture and try to imagine how the Olmec transported that much stone without the use of the wheel from a basalt quarry to the place they were buried.

Examine the head’s iconic face, which is considered to be the most natural in appearance of all of the heads that have been found. Admire the helmet, believed to be a symbol of war, and the statue’s wide nose and full lips. Walk slowly around it, studying the detail, and pause to read the two plaques adorning the statue’s base. 

Learn about the Olmec and about the statue itself and about the donation of this replica. Take yourself back to pre-Columbian Mexico and imagine the people who created this magnificent sculpture. Head into the Field Museum itself to learn even more.

Find Olmec Head Number 8 outside the Field Museum in the heart of Chicago’s Museum District, a 30-minute walk or 10-minute drive from Cloud Gate. Drive here in 35 minutes from Chicago O’Hare International Airport or take public transportation in about 1 hour. Metered parking is available in the museum’s parking structure or on nearby streets. The Olmec Head is always on display, with no admission required.


Guide to Exploring around Olmec Head No 8


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