Mexico City has long been a center for the arts, but it has recently grown into a global destination for culture.
For the past decade, the city’s contemporary art scene has rivaled the rigorous programming and sophistication of European and North American destinations, says Anna Di Stasi, director of Sotheby’s Latin American art department.
Well-heeled art lovers and gallery enthusiasts flock to this creative metropolis to see fine art at its world-class art museums and galleries and at the Zona Maco annual contemporary art fair in February, the largest show of its kind in Latin America.
Below, six of the best high-end cultural venues.
FRIDA KAHLO MUSEUM
The Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul) for its cobalt blue facade, is where Kahlo lived for most of her life.
Fans of the cult figure and world-famous artist, known for her decorative self-portraits and eclectic sartorial style, flock to the house, which attracts hundreds of visitors a day. The house only has a few of her works, but its appeal lies in the display of personal objects—a snapshot into her personal and artistic life.
UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Located 10 miles south of the city center, on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, this museum is a must-see for fans of contemporary art. The museum has the world’s largest public collection of Mexican contemporary art, with works spanning from the 1950s to the present day.
PALACE OF FINE ARTS
A series of murals by Mexico’s best-known mural artists are the most prominent pieces at the Palace of Fine Arts. A flamboyant white-marble building housing a concert hall and arts center, its upper floors feature works by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfara Siqueiros. The hugely popular 1934 building has elegance in abundance, with a stained-glass window by ouis Comfort Tiffany and three tiled golden domes.
Carlos Slim, Mexico’s wealthiest man, built the Soumaya Museum to display a selection of his vast art holdings, known as the Museo Soumaya Collection.
The 66,000-piece collection includes sculptures from pre- Hispanic Mesoamerica as well as 19th- and 20th-century Mexican art, including murals by Siqueiros and Rivera and works by Anthony Van Dyck, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, and Auguste Rodin.
Offered as a gift to the city, with free admission, the museum has been a huge success with the public: It had the highest attendance for any private museum in the world in 2016, attracting two million visitors for that year, according to a report by The Art Newspaper last year. Housed in two buildings, the most impressive of the pair is a contemporary structure designed by the Mexican architect Fernando Romero. With its hourglass form covered in hexagonal aluminum plates, it has drawn comparisons to the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
This museum was built by Eugenio López Alonso—the sole heir to the Jumex fruit juice fortune—to house his contemporary art collection, which includes works by American masters such as Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, Jeff Koons, and Cy Twombly.
Featuring a staggered structure, a sawtooth roof profile, and fully glazed rooms, its striking form was designed by the English architect David Chipperfield.
Positioned opposite the Soumaya Museum, the Jumex is an important center for contemporary art in the capital, hosting original temporary exhibitions and conducting original research.
LUIS BARRAGAN HOUSE
Mexican architect Luis Barragan is known for creating modernist buildings with bright, saturated colors and flat planes, and his home epitomizes his distinctive style.
The 1948 house is simple on the outside, yet has the feel of an abstract expressionist painting on the inside, featuring walls of hot pink, orange, and blue.
Set over three stories and featuring a small garden, it is a beautiful, poetic space to see and explore.