Nature, Power, and Maya Royals: Recent Discoveries from the Site of Buenavista del Cayo is a collaboration between the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Belize Institute of Archaeology, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. This exhibition showcases objects from the Maya Classic period (AD 250–900) discovered at the site of Buenavista del Cayo, Belize. These objects, which are being exhibited for the first time, were recovered in 2014 and 2019 from two royal tombs, one dating to the Early Classic period (ca. AD 450) and one to the Late Classic period (ca. AD 650–750). This exhibition also includes vessels from the SAMA permanent collection, which are put in dialogue with the Buenavista del Cayo objects.
By the Early Classic period, the Maya had developed a strong social hierarchy ruled by kings and queens. The royal class needed to continually negotiate and reaffirm their position in society, and art was one crucial medium for doing so. This exhibition highlights how two Maya rulers commissioned artwork that featured commanding iconography to express and legitimate power.