My absolutely favorite place in Mexico City was the Museo de Arte Popular (MAP) at Revillagigedo 11 behind a huge Hilton. In this small museum atop an enclosed atrium, folk art from incredibly varied cultures is displayed extremely well. Mexico, I learned here, is among the five most biodiverse countries in the world. As a result, “It’s a contrast country is (sic) the place where nature recreates the colors and whimsical shapes” like the delightful pink and green coyote with vívido ears by Angélico Jiménez of Oaxaca. Artisans abound in this climate of intense diversity, and popular art results with materials coming from the natural environment of every region.
This great museum divides Mexico into 3 regions–northern, central, and southeast. Weather, flora, fauna, etc. are different in each with the north being very dry, the southeast moist, etc. This leads to great variety in folk art output, what this museum calls “never stopping art”. Mexican Folk Art reflects geography, customs, roots, etc. in glorious and infinite abundance. Pearl shells, rosewood, feathers, turquoise, etc. etc. decorate and delight. Some of what’s on display is from various archaeological sites, but most of it is put-on-the-sunglasses contemporary and thrilling.
The museum shop just inside the door at street level seems larger than the museum and is full of reasonably priced souvenirs. The fairly unreliable Travelers Guide to Mexico City that I picked up somewhere was at least in English. It raved, accurately, about this museo’s “unique handmade pieces of colorful (sic) and authenticity…that pays homage to the craft tradition of Mexico.” I found something that delighted me in every case–Chiapas amber, a golden gourd, an alligator door knocker. Go and be pleased beyond words.