Nearly a century ago, M.A.R.I. was founded to, among other things, be a center for research in Mexico and Central America.
Since the Institute's directors were interested in the indigenous cultures and civilizations of those countries, M.A.R.I. began to specialize on prehispanic "Middle America" - more commonly referred to today as "Mesoamerica."
In one sense, M.A.R.I. focuses on those people who lived in Mexico and Central America before they became part of Latin America, as well as it studies what became of those people after the Spaniards arrived.
In so doing, M.A.R.I. has undertaken archaeological, linguistic, epigraphic, ethnohistoric, geographic, and ethnographic research in these countries.
It has also stewarded a large collection of archaeological and ethnographic objects in is Conservation lab,
Moreover, it has maintained a large archive of documents and photos associated with research in this area in its Archival Research lab.
Finally, M.A.R.I. is on the cutting-edge of geographic exploration and spatial analysis, especially in the field of archaeology with its GIS Lab.