The Ultimate Guide to Mexico City’s Museums and Art Galleries: Top 30 Picks
Visiting Mexico City Museums and Galleries during your trip to the “Big City” should be top of your list. There’s no better way to learn about Mexico’s history and culture.
However, if you’re short on time, you can only visit those that capture your attention the most. It all depends on your preferences and taste.
I put together this list of the 30 best Mexico City Museums to give you an idea of what they’re all about. Let’s begin!
30 Best Mexico City Museums and World-Class Art Galleries
1. Mexico City Museum
Located inside the former Palace of the Counts of Santiago de Calimaya, this museum symbolizes the late 17th-century baroque architecture architect Francisco Guerrero y Torres built.
Be sure to observe the details that adorn the structures of the place, with heraldic shields, gutters, iron railings, and a beautiful semicircular fountain that give it a unique perspective.
You can find temporary exhibitions dedicated to the work of plastic artists, expressing, through colors and techniques, the different ways of observing and feeling the country’s capital.
The museum hosts guided tours, workshops, speeches, conferences, book presentations, musical concerts, and other artistic and cultural activities.
2. National Museum of Art
In this metaphysical museum, you will find exhibits of Mexican works of art produced between the second half of the 17th century and 1953, offering you a global and straightforward perspective of the Mexican artistic history of that time.
You can also learn about the conservation and study projects that the museum carries out as part of its social work.
The museum building is a clear example of Mexican architecture of the 20th century.
The tours allow visitors to observe different artistic styles, philosophical episodes, and the contributions of national artists.
3. National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City
This museum is recognized as a critical piece of Mexican cultural heritage, showing in its various rooms the nation’s origins.
You will be dazzled when you arrive at the museum and contemplate the tree in the central courtyard with its engravings of eagles and jaguars.
Visiting its rooms, you learn about the nomadic tribes, the Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, and Mexica or Aztec cultures.
The most famous piece of the precinct, the Stone of the Sun, popularly called the Aztec Calendar, is a monolith of 26 tons from the 14th century.
4. Museum of Modern Art
This building offers almost three thousand paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, and engravings from 1919.
You can enjoy various temporary exhibitions that show the work of specific artists or artistic episodes in general. The museum rooms are divided according to the dates of the pieces or by the artist who created them.
The architecture of the museum and its setting offer an environment of reflection and peace, allowing you to enjoy all of its works fully.
5. Mexico City Museums: The Old College of San Ildefonso
A symbol of the colonial architecture of the Historic Center of Mexico City, this is how this beautiful museum is known, where you can observe the artistic work of muralists of the last century, such as Charlot, Fernando Leal, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and many others.
Occasionally, the museum holds temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
Still, something permanent, undoubtedly the place’s main attraction, is the school’s different spaces, such as the chapel, the sacristy, or the beautiful amphitheater where Diego Rivera painted his beautiful mural “The Creation.”
6. Franz Mayer Museum
This Museum focuses mainly on decorative artwork and design.
Here you will find a permanent exhibition that displays everyday objects that have been embellished, thus bringing together the two main qualities of the decorative arts: utility and beauty.
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The primary collection you will see here, that of Franz Mayer, is made up of decorative pieces from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
In addition to the Mayer exhibit, the museum houses the Ruth Lechuga collection, with 9,000 handcrafted objects, and the Paalen collection, with 92 pieces, mainly oil paintings, and drawings.
7. San Carlos National Museum
This museum started as a beautiful and luxurious mansion built by the architect Manuel Tolsá, becoming the headquarters of Highschool #4, home of the National Lottery and the Mexican Tobacco Company offices.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum also has courses and workshops that will make your visit an interactive and educational experience.
8. Tamayo Museum in Mexico City
Starting with the beautiful gardens surrounding it, the Tamayo Museum is an experience you can’t miss.
In its collection, you will find innovative pieces representing international contemporary art, modern art exhibitions, and the works of its founder, Rufino Tamayo.
From time to time, you can find temporary exhibitions that show the work of renowned artists, with pieces that will make you think about the meanings and causes that led them to create such works.
9. Soumaya: One of the most innovative Mexico City Museums
This marvelous museum has two precincts: Plaza Carso, which has unique and innovative architecture, a silvery asymmetrical structure of smooth shapes, resembling the sculptural work of Rodin, 45 meters high and 16,200 hexagonal aluminum plates, and Plaza Loreto.
The collections you will find in this museum include the European Old Masters, with Italian, French, German, and Spanish works of art from the 15th to 18th centuries, rooms with works of Novo-Hispanic and South American art, and an exhibition of the master Auguste Rodin, the second largest in the world outside of France.
10. Interactive Museum of Economics
Known for being the first museum in the world to explain in its exhibits the topics of economics, finance, and sustainable development with the help of the most advanced technologies.
On this site, you will enjoy a fun and educational experience throughout its permanent and temporary exhibits.
Each permanent room occupies a floor within the building, starting with the Growth and Wellbeing room, passing through Finance in Society, Basic Principles of Economics, and ending your tour in the Sustainable Development room.
I recommend asking about the active courses and workshops, including personal finance, marketing, and business.
11. Frida Kahlo Museum Mexico City
Also called “La Casa Azul” (The Blue House), this beautiful museum will allow you to tour what was once the house and home of artist Frida Kahlo, finding a strong relationship between Frida’s artwork and her house.
The house’s interior will show you a warm and receptive atmosphere, with beautiful decorative colors and rustic furniture.
You can contemplate several paintings the artist made that symbolize Mexican culture today.
12. National Museum of Cultures
The National Museum of Cultures is where you can appreciate more than 13,000 objects from different parts of the world, which comprehensively represent different eras, not only for their beauty but also their historical importance, customs, values, ideas, and beliefs around the pieces.
The museum’s collection is currently divided into three rooms:
- The International Room, with pieces from various regions and cultures of the world
- The Mediterranean Room, with objects from Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Persia
- The China Room, which deals with Chinese traditions, beliefs, and culture in general
13. Papalote Children’s Museum
Undoubtedly the best option for children to enjoy a fun day in a museum and for adults to be entertained simultaneously by watching all the interactive activities offered here.
Papalote Children’s Museum, popularly known for its slogan “I touch, play and learn,” will give you an unforgettable experience with its beautiful gardens, learning, entertainment environment, and many exhibits and educational games.
Inside the museum is a movie theater, known as the IMAX mega-screen, where different films about wildlife and the mysteries of the universe are shown.
14. Mexico City’s National Museum of History
Located inside the incredible Chapultepec Castle, this museum has more than 90 thousand objects and pieces representing the historical heritage of the Mexican people.
These pieces are classified into paintings, numismatics, documents, technology, clothing, and furniture for your study and demonstration.
The experience offered by this museum goes beyond its collection since from the moment you go up the hill where it is located, you will feel like you took a trip to the past when the castle was a symbol of power, elegance, and beauty.
At the end of your tour, you can go to the museum store to buy handicrafts, ceramic and silver works, and other exciting objects.
A place that will make your mind fly to the stars, the Science Museum of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), will allow you to discover the universe’s immensity.
At the same time, you learn about different topics such as chemistry, health, evolution, and other significant affairs.
You will find different workshops and interactive activities that will allow you to observe and learn about scientific phenomena and technological progress.
I recommend you find out about the schedules to attend the Planetarium function of the place because you can’t miss it.
16. Diego Rivera Mural Museum
Inside this building, you will find one of the most ethereal works of the talented Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, “Sueño de una Tarde dominical en la Alameda Central,” an important artistic work over the years it has been restored, protected, and safeguarded with great effort.
This magnificent work will tell the story of Mexican history, from the time of the Conquest to 1940, including essential characters such as Cortés, Sor Juana, Iturbide, Maximiliano and Carlota, and Porfirio Díaz, among others.
You will also see the different representative buildings of the city, such as the Monument to the Revolution, the Bank of Mexico, the Plaza de Toros, kiosks, and fountains of those beautiful times.
17. National Museum of Prints
This a site for printmaking fans or those looking to learn about the subject.
Here you will learn about different ways of using techniques such as lithography.
The museum has more than 12,000 pieces that make up the National Collection of Prints, representing the national artistic heritage with artists such as Mexiac, José Posada, Siqueiros, and Tamayo, while showing the works of international artists such as Jacques Villon, Richard Serra, Hans Richter, Josef Albers, among others.
18. Mexico Antique Toy Museum
It is a museum where you will appreciate Mexican history and culture differently through the most extensive collection of toys in the world, both handmade and industrial, which reminds us of the happiest time of our lives, our childhood.
If you can do so before visiting the place, I recommend you book a guided tour to learn about the different eras and places where the toys come from.
19. Anahuacalli Museum
This museum is part of Diego Rivera’s legacy to the Mexican people and the world.
Within its walls, you will find over 50 thousand pieces of pre-Hispanic origin that the artist collected throughout his life.
You will also be able to observe the collection of popular art, which grows yearly since every Day of the Dead, the offerings made to Diego Rivera are collected.
These pieces come from different states of the country, including vessels, plates, pots, candlesticks, vases, masks, basketry, hats, and many other popular objects.
20. National Museum of Interventions
Located in a former convent of the sixteenth century, the National Museum of Interventions will allow you to take a historical tour through the foreign interventions that Mexico has had.
The time of Independence, the Porfiriato, the wars that took place in those times, the treaties that were made, and the battles that were fought.
The perfect place to get an idea of how the Mexican national identity was formed and the foreign policy that evolved into what today makes up our society.
21. Museum of Memory and Tolerance
A site that invites you to remember, reflect, be critical, and think about ways to avoid repeating the same mistakes of the past.
The Museum of Memory and Tolerance has two areas:
- Memory Area, an exhibition on the genocides carried out since the 20th century, among which the Holocaust stands out
- Tolerance Area, in which visitors are invited to meditate on issues such as tolerance, dialogue, human rights, discrimination, media and its influence on society, and the tremendous cultural diversity of Mexico
22. Mexico City Museums: The University of Contemporary Art
Inaugurated in 2007, the University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC) has the first collection open to the public of contemporary art in Mexico.
You will find 1,516 works of art, 25 documentary collections, and five associated collections.
The artistic collection of the primary group began in 1951, involving artists related to the founding of Ciudad Universitaria, continuing up to the modern art of the present.
The museum’s associated exhibits will leave you amazed with their innovative pieces, among which the Corpus Group Collection stands out, with works by current artists.
23. Museum of the “Object of the Object”
At the Museo del Objeto del Objeto (MODO), as it is popularly known, you will find temporary exhibits ranging from the most common and ordinary objects used daily to the rarest and most unique in their style.
You will end your visit amazed by the multitude of collections displayed here, whose purpose is to understand the meaning of the objects on display, thus promoting appreciation for the graphic arts, communication, design, and history.
24. Caricature Museum
Enter this fabulous museum to learn about the history of Mexican caricatures, which can be seen as a critique of society, culture, and customs.
You will find four main rooms:
- Room XIX Century, which shows the origins of the caricature in Mexico, gives you a chance to see the first one published in the country
- Room XX Century and Fathers of the Caricature, where you will meet the caricaturists who could show their works with freedom of expression
- Room Founders of the Mexican Society of Caricaturists, which is the basis of this museum and the society
- Room of Caricature in the Media, showing the works of caricaturists in the national press
25. Templo Mayor Museum
A tour of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan, the city of the Mexica or Aztec people, is undoubtedly a unique and unforgettable experience.
Meet the ancient Mexica gods, such as Tlaloc, god of rain, or Huitzilopochtli, god of war and patron of the “Mexica” people.
With more than 7,000 objects recovered during excavations at the site, this museum is a jewel of pre-Hispanic history, where you will learn about the culture, customs, and society of the “Mexica” people.
26. Carranza House Museum
This mansion was built in 1908 by the Civil Engineer Manuel Stampa, with a French style for that time, and today is home to the Museo Casa de Carranza, where you can see a collection of about 3,400 pieces, including books, objects, furniture and personal items of Venustiano Carranza.
As central parts of the exhibition in this museum is the original “Plan of Guadalupe,” the pen with which the Plan and the Constitution of 1917 were signed, and a reproduction of the Constitution itself on metal plates.
27. José Luis Cuevas Museum
At the José Luis Cuevas Museum, you will find a collection of contemporary art that will leave you amazed by the beauty of the works, the variety of styles, and the number of artists.
You will observe more than 1,850 works by mainly Latin American artists in different rooms and areas of the place, constantly changing throughout the year.
One of the main works you will see is the famous La Giganta, located in the center of the museum’s courtyard.
The site also has temporary exhibitions, mainly showing works by José Luis Cuevas himself.
28. Ripley’s Museum
A visit you can’t miss, the Ripley’s Museum is home to one of the largest displays of strange and unusual objects, brought by collector and cartoonist Robert L. Ripley during his explorations.
In its 12 exhibition rooms, you can see a wax replica of the tallest man in the world, a rat wine bottle, shrunken human voodoo heads, astronaut costumes, and many other rare and unique items.
29. Ruth Lechuga House Museum
Visit this museum to see Dr. Ruth Lechuga’s collection of more than 10,000 pieces representing the daily activities of Mexico’s varied indigenous populations.
You can see masks, nativity scenes (scale figures representing the birth of Jesus Christ), clothing, lacquerware, baskets, wooden sculptures, and many other objects, which you will appreciate for their artistic value and the meaning they have in terms of the wide range of cultures integrated in Mexico.
30. Mexico City’s Chocolate Museum
The most desirable museum in Mexico City, the MUCHO, as it is popularly known, will introduce you to the techniques used in the production of chocolate and its relevance in Mexican culture.
The fantastic qualities of chocolate will besiege your senses of touch, smell, and taste. You can attend the workshops and courses with chocolate tastings, occasional concerts, and guided tours that reveal the history of this delicious product.
At the end of your visit, I recommend going to the museum store, where you can buy delicious chocolates and dishes or drinks based on cocoa and chocolate.
30 Best Mexico City Museums and World-Class Art Galleries: Conclusion
In conclusion, Mexico City is a treasure trove of museums and art galleries catering to various interests and preferences.
From ancient civilizations to modern art, visitors can immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of Mexico and appreciate the creativity of local and international artists.
With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but it’s worth exploring and discovering the hidden gems that make Mexico City’s art scene one of the most vibrant in the world.
Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for something new and exciting, there’s something for everyone in this dynamic and fascinating city. Vamonos!