If you ever find yourself in Mexico City, visiting a museum or two is a must. CDMX has a plethora of museums, and I read that it has more museums than any other city on Earth. I had an opportunity to visit six of them during my trip.
Here a few things to note about Mexico City’s museums:
- They are free to residents on Sundays, so it tends to be crowded on that day.
- Most of the museums are closed on Mondays. There are still a few, like the Soumaya Museum, that are open on Mondays.
- There is usually a separate fee to take photos inside the museum.
Museo Memoria y Tolerancia was rough for me. I visited on a Sunday when it was free for Mexican residents, so it was crowded. The museum brings awareness to genocide that occurred and is occurring all over the world, and one of the main exhibits is about the Holocaust. It even includes an original wagon from Poland that was used to transport people to concentration camps and death. Those small cars carried 80 to 100 people for days without food, water, and proper ventilation.It was all too much for me. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the visit, and I was also annoyed by the people who were smiling and posing for photos as if they were having a lovely day at the beach. I walked quickly through the exhibits, but there was also focus on genocide in countries such as Guatemala and Rwanda.
The exhibits were in Spanish. I chose not to purchase an audio guide in English, but I was able to understand the gist of everything.
I didn’t have to pay an entrance fee for my visit to Museo Mural Diego Rivera. It was Sunday, and residents can visit museums for free, but I obviously couldn’t pass for a Mexican resident, so perhaps it was free on Sundays for foreigners as well. I did have to pay 5 pesos to take photos.
I didn’t do any research on the museum, but I expected there to be several of Rivera’s murals on display. In all actually, the museum on focuses on one of the many murals of Rivera: The Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central or Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central. The mural gives a breakdown of the history of Mexico, and a lovely older gentleman noticed me observing the mural intensely and took the time to give a history lesson based on the characters in the painting. Then he told me I was beautiful, and fussed at me for not knowing Spanish well enough.
One day, I am going to write about why Frida Kahlo is my spirit animal. Without a doubt, the hottest ticket in town was to Casa Azul – or the Frida Kahlo Museum. I purchased my ticket online so that I could skip the line. I arrived at 1:30 pm since my ticket was for 2:00 pm, and there was a line for people with tickets and people without tickets. Both lines were ridiculously long. I hopped into the ticket holder line, thinking that there was no way I would get inside before 2:00 pm. Also, the sun was beaming on my feet. About ten minutes after 2:00, a man began asking for those people who had tickets for 2:00 pm. I sped past the long line of other ticketholders ,and was able to get inside quickly.
Casa Azul is another museum that has a separate fee for photography, although visitors are allowed to take pictures anywhere outside. I did not buy a photography permit, but I did purchase an audio guide. The audio guide is worth the fee because it provides information about notable things in each room that I wouldn’t have known about without it even if I could read in Spanish. For instance, the urn where Frida’s remains lie. I’m pretty sure I was the only person that was aware of that because I had the audio guide. Everyone else appeared to overlook the urn as just another quirky piece in the home.
The Anthropology Museum was the most recommended museum of them all. I regretfully did not spend much time there because I had started to feel the effects of the altitude on that day, and decided to get back to my Airbnb since I was dizzy and having trouble breathing. Before I left, I was able to view several artifacts and replicas related to Teotihuacan. The gift shop also had lots of great items for sale.
Most of the action was outside of the Anthropology Museum, where the street vendors lined the sidewalk selling food, drinks, souvenirs, and apparel. Musicians played their instruments for the pedestrians in hopes of getting tips. One thing about Mexico City that I noticed is that food, drinks, and souvenirs are always available. Furthermore, the vendors are never aggressive.
After the Soviet Union forced them into exile, Leon Trotsky and his family floated from country to country until they arrived at their final resting place in Mexico City. Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky is just a few blocks away from Casa Azul, and worth the additional visit. Trotsky and his wife actually lived at Casa Azul for a couple of years before moving to this property. This was only after Diego and Trotsky fell out after Diego discovered that Trotsky and Frida were having an affair.
The exterior of the home and the garden area is absolutely gorgeous, and they have preserved the inside of the home to look the same as the day of Trotsky’s assassination in his study. One can even see some of the bullet holes in the walls from a prior assassination attempt. The museum offered guided tours in English, but I decided against it. The displays are in English and Spanish, so I was perfectly fine.
Casa Azul was my favorite museum out of the six that I visited, but I look forward to returning to Mexico to see more art museums and to learn more about Mexican history.