Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (2022)

5 Contemporary Art Museums to Tweak Out Whatever You Might Have Been Thinking

Contemporary art is always a tough cookie. Contemporary art museums are tough, too. First, you’ve got to find them. Then you’ve got to figure out the art, too.

And while we very often make mention of the fact that Mexico City has more museums than any other city – save precious London – we don’t often put those many museums together with the city’s electric – and very passionate – contemporary art scene.

But like everything chic and sassy, Mexico City’s contemporary art museums are relatively discreet. They’ll occasionally host the blow-out party for the kids, but by and large, they keep a low profile – even while “hiding” some of the city’s most earth-shattering recent aesthetic discoveries.

There’s a lot to look at. Here are five of the best places you’re most likely to find it:

1. Museo Jumex – Polanco

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (1)

The Jumex Foundation, long regarded as the premier corporate collection of contemporary art in Latin America, began the Jumex museum in Polanco to at least occasionally show off some its collections. Mostly the David Chipperfield-designed museum in Polanco shows off the fact that contemporary art is still not that easy to find. The Jumex Foundation website (redesigned multiple times since the museum opened in 2012) has gotten a little better at promoting shows as they’re scheduled to open, and that includes nearly a full slate for 2017. Check the link below for an idea.

Address: Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, col. Polanco
Phone: 5395 2618

Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil –San Ángel

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Among the most beautiful of museums in the south of the city, the Carillo Gil was named for the contemporary collector and mid-20th-century super-benefactor, Dr. Álvar Carrillo Gil. With a permanent collection of some 2,000 pieces by blue-chip Mexican artists like Orozco, Rivera and especially Siqueiros, it’s a must-see for the twilight of Mexican Modernism. But a renewed focus on contemporary art keeps things fresh and includes 300 drawings, paintings, engravings, lithographs, collages, photographs, installations, artists’ books, sculptures, videos and more.

Address: Revolución 1608, col. San Ángel
Telephone: 8647 5450

MUAC (El Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo de la UNAM) – University City

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The University Museum of Contemporary Art of UNAM is the first museum created ex profeso— that is — expressly for contemporary art in all Mexico. Opened just in 2008, MUAC has hosted and exhibited striking international surveys and curated exhibitions of some of the most important art in the world. Designed by Teodoro González de León, the building gives space to lively debate and critical experimentation for in which the very axis of museum-studies centers squarely on the individual visitor.

Address: Insurgentes Sur 3000, Coyoacán
Phone: 5622 6872
Web page

(Video) How Mexico City became a global center for contemporary art

Museo Tamayo – Chapultepec Park

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At the end of the 1970s, Oaxacan artist, Rufino Tamayo, began to acquire works to form his own collection of contemporary international art. He later donated the collection to the Mexican people in order to better present the world artistic panorama to them. Inaugurated just in 1981, it became part of the National Institute of Fine Arts just a few later. Even after the artist’s death, the museum continues to host lively and compelling exhibitions of important international and Mexican artists.

Address: Paseo de la Reforma 51, Bosque de Chapultepec
Phone: 4122 8200

Museo Universitario Del Chopo – Santa Maria la Ribera

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Sometimes far more famous for the building, constructed some 100 years ago in Germany it was moved to Mexico in 1903. Though it’s been put to a good half dozen uses since then, as one of the city’s liveliest contemporary art museums it’s been going strong since 1975. The truly impressive renovations from 2004-2010 have resulted in the striking space for exhibitions and performances that we see today. Far from a stodgy collection of galleries, today the Chopo museum host round the year screenings, concerts, and exhibitions of some of the city’s and the world’s most impressive creators.

Address: Dr. Enrique González Martínez 10, col. Santa María la Ribera
Phone: 5546 8490
Web page

ILUMINA is an interactive sculpture of light and sound fed by the collective energy of people’s hearts.

Art and technology are two faces of human creativity, two that are also closely related, despite the differences they apparently have with each other. What art does on many occasions has been achieved thanks to a specific technical development, a technology whose existence allows the artists toenhance orlimittheir creative work. Yes, it conditions it, but possibly also encourages it to transcend those limitations.

In this sense, the relationship between one and another human activities could be found in virtually any era, but it is certainly in recent times when technology has a presence, so persistent, somehow so inescapable, that art has beenbenefited for incorporating it.Both as a resource, an instrument, as part of the examination of contemporary reality, when many of our practices and interactions almost necessarily pass through a technological device.

Thus, somehow the ideal professed by Nietzsche on the need to transform life in a work of art, but this time through art and technology. Somehow the aesthetic sensibility, the discovery of the admirable or the frankly beautiful that any of us can perceive, finds a vehicle, a means of transmission and expression in how art can be magnified through technology.

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (6)

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (7)

Nowadays, it is becoming more and more complex to achieve high levels of consciousness, and to create a community without being outside of technology, but ww can use it as a tool to improve our sensitive abilities. To the same extent that we depend on technology to survive, it has become part of our lives, even in its most spiritual and even transcendental recesses. Art, now more than ever, demands to be a vehicle to explore different states that bring us closer to the dimensions of the infinite

(Video) Exploring Mexico City Art Galleries: Part I

Ilumina is an installation created by the artist Pablo Gonzalez Vargas, who through a deep exploration with the power of interconnectivity, proposes a method to improve the energy field of the planet. Pablo Gonzalez created a majestic interactive sculpture of light and sound that is activated by the emotional states of people, generating a beautiful light show and a sound landscape where the participants enter a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves and with each other.

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (8)

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (9)

Ilumina is a metallic art monument, completed with aluminum and LED lights that together form an architectural piece full of harmony. The piece of art combines technology with a design of ancient wisdom. Ilumina has a program that responds to external stimuli, being able to shine more while more “coherent” is the group that hosts, generating a unique shared experience.

Ilumina is achilling visual experience, and the volunteers who participate in the exercise of meditative immersionthat lasts three minutes, are transported to a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves, with their fellow participants and with the cosmos through a patented fusion of modern technology and transpersonal art.

The biometric sensors are connected to the ear lobes of each participant, which measures their unique state of coherence and averages them together. This is how lighting design and moving soundscapes respond to a unique algorithm, a product of HeartMath that uses biometric sensors for personal self-training in the regulation of emotional states where the sculpture becomes brighter to the extent that the users experiment with their emotions.

The team that created Ilumina included about 20 people from different disciplines and contributions. There was a large industrial design team that shaped the exact model that was taken to manufacturing. Marco Kalach worked with an expert manufacturing workshop, because as it is a public use facility in particular events, it had to comply with all the rules, structural regulations and with protection codes. The executive producer of the project was Gaby Vargas, who was responsible for the expertise at HeartMath, and joined by mexican musicians and audio engineers to make the experience of 360 degrees of immersive sound, led by Billy Mendez. The lighting team, directed by Paolo Montiel, coordinated all the programming and lighting design that makes symbiosis with the audio.

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (10)

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (11)

It was at Burning Man2012, where Pablo Gonzalez Vargas created an art car called Mayan Warrior: a luminescence project and a spectacular audio show featuring pieces by the artist Alex Gray and musical performances by elite artists from Mexico and around the world.

In the penultimate edition of Burning Man, Pablo Gonzalez and his team decided to go a step beyond the great proposal that is Mayan Warrior, by presenting Ilumina, this piece of sacred geometry that radiates not only light but an algorithmic sacrality, it’s as mystical and hypnotic as an art piece can get. The tower of almost 12 meters high illuminated the Nevada desert at the Burning Man Festival 2017, and users managed to enter a mental state full of concentration characterized by a complete absorption, a wonderful moment of loss of the notion of spacetime.

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Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (13)

(Video) Some of Mexico City's Weird, Obscure but Interesting Museums

It is expected that later there will be replicas of these sculptures, so that they can reach new locations around the world, and we can experience this amazing spectacle of light and the soundscape that connects us with the profound mysticism that exists in ourselves and that highlights the interconnectivity of our planet with the global energy fields.

Here aresome photos of this beautiful project, in which lies the probability of a coherent and luminous future that would be worth living.

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Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (15)

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (16)

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (17)

If you want to know more about this beautiful project or about the creative artist and allies that integrate it, visit their social media channels:

Ilumina Art Installation

Sitio web // Facebook // Instagram

Chilangos may cherish their reputation for never reading, but Mexico City libraries present a very contrary picture.

Though the internet makes lots more information available to lots more people, Mexico City libraries have simply not been supplanted. Charged with continually re-inventing themselves, and their places in the public imagination, one can still encounter eras gone by and great historical minds in a library as in few other places.

Knowledge, after all, belongs to everyone. Opening a book, reading it at a study, or just meeting in the silence of one these Mexico City libraries enhances concentration,and provides a welcome respite from everything going on out there in the world.

Of all Mexico City libraries, the oldest were part of the church and one or another of its offshoot organizations. Among these was the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, founded in the 1530s and surviving today as the Biblioteca José María Lafragua. Most of these ecclesiastical libraries were not truly open to the public, and Mexico had to wait for the National Library of Mexico, inaugurated by Benito Juárez in 1867 to enjoy the benefits of a truly public library system.

The list below is intended to let you enjoy some of that system, too.

(Video) Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City

José Vasconcelos Library

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (18)

Opened just ten years ago, in 2006, the Vasconcelos is visited by thousands for the sheer spectacle of its innovative design. Graced by the iconic whale from artist, Gabriel Orozco, it’s always a good library for art and visual spectacle. The facade retains something of a colonial appearance, but for sheer scale, and jaw-dropping space, the interior must be experienced.

Address: Eje 1 Norte Mosqueta S / N, Buenavista

UNAM Central Library

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (19)

We’ve written a lot about it in these pages, but the UNAM library with the Juan O’Gorman murals remains one of the most outstanding of all Mexico City libraries. As a UNESCO site with some 428,000 volumes in the collection, it’s the biggest in Mexico, but lots of folks visit just to see the facade and the surrounding grounds.

Address: Circuito Interior S / N, Coyoacán, Ciudad Universitaria

National Library of Mexico

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (20)

Opened by Benito Juárez in 1867, there’s still a good one million books inside, today administered by the folks from UNAM. Originally located in the San Agustín church in the city center, the current building was opened in 1979. Geometric, and massive, it’s an extraordinary place to visit.

Address: Av. Universidad 3000, Coyocacan

Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Library

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (21)

Specializing in economic materials, this collection of some 86,350 books and 114,852 journals is administered by the Secretary of Finance and Public Credit. Founded in 1928, it’s one of the cities true public art spectacles. Inside the main nave of the old Oratory of San Felipe Neri “El Nuevo,” the baroque façade outside is just the beginning. Inside, the murals are futuristic, and not to be missed.

Address: Av. República de el Salvador 49, Centro Histórico, col. Centro Histórico

Library of Congress of the Union

Mexico City’s Five Best Contemporary Art Museums | MXCity (22)

One of Centro’s truly outstanding historical buildings, for centuries it was the convent of the Clarisas from the 16th century. Today it’s something like a “Library of Congress”with a stunning collection of publications and artifacts, but also with a lush, deep, dark intellectual interior, that beckons from centuries past.

(Video) Discover Mexico City's Art Scene - My Mexico City, Ep. 3 (4K)

Address: Tacuba 29, Centro Histórico

Photographs this page: Flickr – Creative Commons


What is the most visited museum in Mexico? ›

The National Museum of Anthropology, located in Mexico City, was the most visited museum in Mexico in 2021, with more than 475 thousand visitors. The National Museum of History, also located in the Mexican capital, was the second most popular museum in the country that year.

Is Mexico City the City with the most museums? ›

Mexico City ranks second after Paris as the city with the greatest number of museums, with more than 150 at last count. How can one city -- even one with such a rich history and such a large population -- sustain so many museums?

How many officially recognized museums are in Mexico City? ›

In Mexico City there are 151 registered museums and 200 that are not recognized yet.

Where is the art district in Mexico City? ›

San Rafael

It's known as the artsy zone on the rise in the Mexican capital, thanks to more affordable (read: not Roma) prices.

What are the top 5 most visited museums? ›

The top 20 most visited museums in the world
  • 1 The Louvre – Paris, France. ...
  • 2 National Museum of China – Beijing, China. ...
  • 3 Vatican Museums – Vatican City. ...
  • 4 The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York, USA. ...
  • 5 British Museum – London, UK. ...
  • 6 Tate Modern – London, UK. ...
  • 7 The National Gallery – London, UK.

What is the name of the famous museum in Mexico City? ›

Mexico City is home to the most visited museum in the country: the Museo Nacional de Antropología, which holds one of the most important collections of pre-hispanic art.

What is Mexico City best known for? ›

Built on the ruins of the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, Mexico City is one of the oldest and largest cities in the Americas. Colonial architecture, iconic artwork, spicy cuisine, and a rich cultural heritage offer visitors an endless array of activities that will satisfy any appetite.

What is the most important place in Mexico City? ›

The beating heart of Mexico City is Zócalo - the Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square) - where the country's first constitution was proclaimed in 1813.

Which famous place in Mexico City can you still see one of his murals? ›

Palacio Nacional, found just off the famous Zócalo, is one of the many places throughout the capital that allow you to marvel at Diego Rivera's iconic murals.

Is CDMX the biggest city in the world? ›

According to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments, the population of Greater Mexico City is 21,804,515, which makes it the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the world, the second-largest urban agglomeration in the Western Hemisphere (behind São Paulo, Brazil), and the largest ...

What is the art capital of Mexico? ›

In early February each year, Mexico City becomes the centre of the art world, as the Zona Maco fair opens its doors. About to mark its 19th edition, Zona Maco will host more than 200 galleries: foreign heavyweights such as Pace, Lisson and Kasmin, as well as local ones such as Kurimanzutto and OMR.

What is the richest neighborhood in Mexico City? ›

Polanco is often called the "Beverly Hills of Mexico", having one of the country's densest concentrations of luxury shopping, with the most upscale restaurants, high-net-worth individuals, upscale hotels, and diplomatic missions and embassies. It is one of the most expensive real estate markets in Latin America.

What is the #1 museum in the world? ›

Louvre, Paris

With over one million more visitors than the next museum on this list, the Louvre has long been a worldwide favorite (it reported 9.6 million visitors in 2019 and 2.7 million in 2020).

What is the #1 most visited place in the world? ›

1. Bangkok. What is this? Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the most visited city in the world thanks to a whopping 22 millions international visitors!

What is the oldest museum in Mexico? ›

The National Museum of History (Spanish: Museo Nacional de Historia), also known as MNH, is a national museum of Mexico, located inside Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City.

What museums are free in Mexico City? ›

Always free
  • Museo Nacional de la Acuarela. ...
  • Museo del Estanquillo. ...
  • Museo de la Charrería. ...
  • Palacio de Cultura Banamex (Antiguo Palacio de Iturbide) ...
  • Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (Sundays) ...
  • Museo Dolores Olmedo (Tuesdays)
24 Apr 2017

What is the #1 museum in the world? ›

Louvre, Paris

With over one million more visitors than the next museum on this list, the Louvre has long been a worldwide favorite (it reported 9.6 million visitors in 2019 and 2.7 million in 2020).

What are two major tourist attractions in Mexico? ›

A list of the most amazing tourist attractions in Mexico:
  • Museo Nacional de Antropologia[SEE MAP]
  • Zipolite[SEE MAP] ...
  • Uxmal[SEE MAP] ...
  • El Malecon[SEE MAP] ...
  • Great Pyramid of Cholula[SEE MAP] ...
  • Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve[SEE MAP] ...
  • San Miguel de Allende[SEE MAP] ...
  • Monte Alban[SEE MAP] ...
20 Apr 2022

What's Mexico City famous for? ›

Built on the ruins of the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, Mexico City is one of the oldest and largest cities in the Americas. Colonial architecture, iconic artwork, spicy cuisine, and a rich cultural heritage offer visitors an endless array of activities that will satisfy any appetite.

What are 3 things Mexico is known for? ›

Mexico is known for its rich culture, ancient ruins, dazzling beaches, and incredible cuisine. Tour Mayan temple ruins by day and indulge in fantastic food while listening to the rhythms of live music by night.

What is the number 1 wonder of the world? ›

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza. Of all the ancient seven wonders of the world, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the one and only wonder that has survived to stand tall through thick and thin.

What is the 7th wonder of the world in Mexico? ›

Chichen Itza is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. If you are traveling to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or one of the many hotspots located on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, there are a handful of sights you absolutely must-see. None are more breathtaking than Chichen Itza: one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Does Mexico have one of the 7 Wonders of the World? ›

The Yucatan peninsula of Mexico is home to a number of archaeological ruins, including one of the seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza. This Mayan site has grown into a popular tourist attraction and for good reason.


1. [4k] Walking Tour of Mexico City Contemporary Art Museum
(Shawnin' Around)
2. Is the World's Best Museum in Mexico City? — Mexico Travel Vlog #8
(The New Travel)
3. Mexico City Art Fair: Zonamaco 2022
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5. National Museum of Mexican Art
(National Museum of Mexican Art)
6. Crossing South Bite-Size: Exploring Chapultepec Park and Castle in Mexico City
(KPBS Public Media)

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