Tomorrow I’ll report on 3 museums in Mexico City to potentially avoid. Today the subject is a museum worth seeing. It’s in the enormous Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City’s Central Park. This green space’s 1,600 acres include 3 lakes, lots of vendors, a zoo, woodlands, grand monuments, a large number of multi-generational families enjoying time together, and one of this city’s top attractions, the Castillo de Chapultepec. On this park’s edge is Los Pinos, the Mexican President’s official residence. Ruth & I almost missed one of its better attractions, the Museo de Arte Moderno.
We walked by it on our first afternoon in town and decided to skip it entirely. It looked small, and modern art can be many, many things. But then we met a young Mexico City photographer who told us about its current exhibits and introduced us to the work of David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of Mexico’s top muralists, and we learned that Siqueiros was among the artists in the Museo de Arte Moderno’s collection. He was, in my opinion, a better artist than Diego Rivera, whose work is idolized in Mexico. Siqueiros specialty was social realism and he did murals depicting passionately political subjects. That’s his faceless but not handless 1947 painting called “Our Current Image” and it’s in this museum along with Kahlo’s, Picassos, etc.
When we finally went to the Museo de Arte Moderno, which was the closest attraction in Mexico City to our hotel, we had a surprise. The building that we thought was the museum was just its entry point. Beyond it was a garden and the actual building designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. It was an attraction all by itself. Vázquez received many architectural honors during his long life, specialized in school construction, and was on the International Olympic Committee. He died in 2013, age 94. I loved his grand staircases in this museo.
Before you go to this museum, however, check out what’s there first. It mounts many shows of exceptional quality that are temporary. While we were there we saw a retrospective look at the work of Spanish fashion icon Cristóbal Balenciaga, an exhibit of the work of Mexican artist Juan Soriano, and selections from the Paul Westheim collection. Ruth especially loved the Balenciaga, who was as much artist as clothes designer. It was, by far, the most extensive exhibit of the 3; and it’s there until September, 2016. I would estimate that 70% of what we saw in this museum was temporary.
On our final morning in Mexico City Ruth and I went up to Chapultepec Castle, the presidential residence from 1864 until 1939, and saw more grand staircases, period rooms decorated in European style, and Siqueiros’ most famous mural. It was hard to get Ruth out of its gift shop.