Mexico City is a hub for art in the country. There are over 150 museums scattered around the city. The museums showcase art from Mexico’s past and present, famous national artists, collections from ancient civilizations, and much more. For many of the museums, even the building architecture is enough to make it a favorite attraction for tourists. Since it would be hard to visit all of the great museums during your trip, these are the top seven museums worth visiting in Mexico City.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia
The Museo Nacional de Antropologia (MNA) surpasses all other museums in Mexico City in terms of size and visitors. It’s the largest museum in Mexico covering 79,700 square meters. It also receives over 2.3 million visitors every year, partly thanks to its location in the popular Chapultepec Park. It was established in 1964.
There are over 23 rooms of exhibitions within the museum, showcasing Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage through a range of artifacts discovered and collected from around the country. Their displays of archaeological and anthropological artifacts allow visitors to piece together the way of life in various eras of ancient Mexican societies. You’re able to view a scale model of the ancient Tenochtitlan civilization and statues from the Mayan civilization. Prominent exhibit halls are dedicated to civilizations such as Aztec art.
Museo Soumaya is one of the most visited museums in Mexico City with over a million visitors annually.
It’s located in the Polanco district of Mexico City, known to be one of the most affluent areas in the city. The attention to detail in the building and exhibits hosted by Museo Soumaya reflect the upscale nature of the surrounding area. The museum relocated from an older building established in 1994 in Plaza Loreto into its new home which opened in 2011. Museo Soumaya’s 16,000 square meter space holds over 66,000 works of art, valued at over $700 million.
The artwork showcased in the Museo Soumaya spans 30 centuries. Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica to 19th-20th Century Mexican art includes the largest collection of coins from the pre-Hispanic and colonial eras. It also holds a substantial amount of European artwork from the 15th-20th Century. Art from some of the most famous artists in the world is featured in the museum’s exhibits, including Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, and Auguste Rodin.
Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes
The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes is one of the most iconic buildings in Mexico City, located in the historic district. The Art Nouveau style of the exterior and the art deco interior make it one of the most memorable buildings in the city and a major tourist attraction. The museum serves as a cultural center for the city, hosting not only art exhibitions, but also cultural events, theatre performances, music concerts, and much more. It was established in 1934 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on the building’s beautiful architecture and purpose for promoting Mexican heritage.
The Museo del Palacio features artwork from many famous Mexican artists, including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Siqueiros. It also features exhibits of international artists. The permanent exhibitions and temporary exhibits have a focus on contemporary art and classical art, showcasing everything from sculptures, paintings, and photography.
Museo Nacional de Historia
The enormous Chapultepec Park also holds another major museum, the Museo Nacional de Historia, located in Chapultepec Castle. Ascend the hill to discover the castle waiting at the top. The first impression of all visitors to the museum is the panoramic views of Mexico City from the top. Over two million visitors come to the museum every year.
Chapultepec Castle was the former residence of Mexican Emperor Maximillian I of Mexico. The museum includes rooms which were recreated to resemble their original appearance during his residency. The exhibits of the museum are sectioned into 12 showrooms, each detailing various stages of Mexican history. The museum invites visitors to browse through the centuries of the Conquest era, New Spain, Viceregal Era, Mexican War of Independence, and the Revolution of 1910. The Museo Nacional de Historia also includes an outdoor garden area and an old observatory.
Museo Nacional de Arte
The Historic Center of Mexico City is where you’ll find the Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL). MUNAL was established in 1982 in an iconic Neoclassical-styled architecture building. The museum serves multiple purposed for Mexico. The art collections featured in the museum are of Mexican Art history spanning from the mid-16th Century to the mid-20th Century. The museum is also a center for research and teaching about Mexican art. It hosts many community events such as workshops and lectures while providing plenty of volunteer opportunities.
There are over 3,000 works of art showcased throughout MUNAL. The design of the museum is to walk visitors through the development of Mexican fine art. The exhibits cover three prominent eras for Mexican art. The Colonial-era exhibition called Asimilación de Occidente covers art from 1550 to 1821. The Post-Mexican Independence era exhibit, called La construcción de la Nación, has works from the century after the country’s independence. The third exhibit, called Estrategías plásticas para un México modern, showcases art from post-Mexican Revolution through to the 1950s.
Museo de Arte Moderno
Many of the museums in Mexico were established for showcasing historical Mexican art. The Museo de Arte Moderno is for the exact opposite. It was founded in 1964 in Chapultepec Park, with a purpose of highlighting modern works of art from 1930 to the present day. Both national and international artists are featured in the museum.
The Museo de Arte Moderno sections its exhibits into four main rooms. There are permanent exhibitions that display art from a range of Mexican masters of modern art. Top names seen throughout the museum include José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, and Diego Rivera. The museum holds such an extensive collection of art that temporary exhibits are held to cycle through other favorite Mexican and international artists. The outside of the museum is designed with gardens.
Museo Frida Kahlo
Museo Frida Kahlo, also called La Casa Azul is a museum commemorating the life and art of Frida Kahlo. Frida Kahlo is the most famous woman artist from Mexico, whose husband, Diego Rivero, donated her home after her death in her honor to become a museum. It’s located in the Coyoacán district of Mexico City. Its name, La Casa Azul, or ‘the blue house,’ is used based on the museum’s appearance. It was the actual home of Frida Kahlo where she was born, raise, lived with Diego Rivera, and ultimately died.
Museo Frida Kahlo is the result of the house being preserved in its condition since her passing in the 1950s. Guided tours are provided through the house’s ten rooms, each showcasing something unique from her art, life, and artists associated with her. The museum contains art from both artists as well as memorabilia, photographs, letters, Hispanic artifacts, and other personal items. After gaining international popularity more than 40 years after her death, a café and gift shop were added to the museum.
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