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Mexico City: race to the Museum Capital

September 1, 2016 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Besides being one of the largest capital cities in the world, Mexico City has a vibrant cultural heart thanks to the phenomenal number of museums, monuments, traditional neighborhoods, historical buildings and cultural centers.

Race fans planning on coming to the city for the Formula 1® 2016 Mexican Grand Prix – from October 28th to 30th – should save some time to soak up the rich heritage of the city and with 183 museums, Mexico City is has the second largest number of museums of any city worldwide only behind London.

From fascinating archaeological sites to deluxe art collections, the following is a selection of 12 of the top museums to visit in Mexico City:

National Museum of Anthropology. Definitely one of the nation’s most important museums. It contains one of the world’s largest collections of archaeological and anthropological artifacts – from the prehispanic Mayans and other Mesoamerican civilizations, to the Spanish conquest.

Suggestions: the Aztec Calendar or Piedra del Sol, the reconstruction of an eighth century Mayan tomb; a copy of Aztec ruler Moctezuma’s feathered headdress and massive Olmec heads.

Bellas Artes Palace. This domed architectural confection, dating from 1904, hosts visual arts, architecture and literature exhibitions, as well as theatrical performances and ballet. Beyond these, its interior walls house epic murals by some of Mexico’s greatest artists, like Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo.

Suggestions: The stained-glass curtain in the main theater, which was built by Tiffany New York, is a foldable panel representing the landscape of the Valley of Mexico with its two great volcanoes – Popocatepetl and Iztacchihuatl.

Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul. Located in the cozy Coyoacan neighborhood – which stands out over its cobblestone streets, colonial-era estates, interesting churches and artisans’ markets – a the museum used to be the home where the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo lived with her muralist husband Diego Rivera. It houses several pieces of artwork and some of the artists’ personal possessions.

Chapultepec Castle. The only royal castle in America, its construction began in 1785 when it was home to the Military Academy. It then became Maximilian and Charlotte’s Imperial Palace, who restored it and embellished its gardens. It became a presidential residence from 1884 to 1944. Now it displays an exhibition with some of its former guests prized personal possessions.

Suggestions: Charlotte’s chambers, the views from the terrace, the gardens.

Templo Mayor Museum. Located in the city’s downtown area, this spot was once the heart of the ancient Aztec capital – Tenochtitlan. The museum hosts original pre-Hispanic ruins that were discovered by archaeologists in the mid-1900s under the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral.

Suggestions: Eagle Warrior sculpture, Chac mool sculpture, Tlaloc’s ceramic pot.

National Art Museum. Located in the building that formerly hosted the Communications and Public Works Palace, it houses Mexican works of art produced between the second half of the XVI century and 1954, thus offering a condensed vision of Mexican Art. It also hosts renowned international exhibitions.

Mexican Revolution Museum. Originally, the building was supposed to host the National Congress, nevertheless its construction came to an abrupt stop because of the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, the country’s civil war. The permanent exhibition presents the history of this period through selected objects and historical documents.

Suggestions: the views from the museum’s dome balcony.

University Museum of Contemporary Art. Located within the premises of the National Autonomous University of Mexico – among the top ten best colleges in Latin America, this museum opened in November 2008. Through its permanent collection and multiple exhibitions, it has set a new benchmark for artistic appreciation in the country, visitors leave wholly enriched.

Interactive Economics Museum. An initiative of the Mexican Central Bank, it is the first museum in the world dedicated to explaining issues of economics, finance and sustainable development with the most advanced technologies.

Suggestions: design your own Mexican bill, stock exchange simulator.

Jumex Museum. It is the main platform of the Jumex Foundation for Contemporary Art – one of Latin America’s most important international collections. The museum opened with the aim, not only to cater contemporary art to a wide and diverse audience, but also to become a laboratory for experimentation and innovation in the arts through its exhibitions.

Papalote, Children’s Museum. It opened in 1993 with the goal of providing Mexican children with a space for discovery, learning and fun. Its rooms offer dynamic and interactive spaces that awaken the children’s natural interest and curiosity to experiment, imagine and learn using games as a tool. It is undergoing an important transformation that will conclude during the summer of 2016.

Soumaya Art Museum. This stunningly designed museum houses an extensive art collection and contains classical European works, modern Mexican pieces, and an enormous collection of pre-Hispanic and colonial era coins.

These are only a small sample of the vast cultural experiences Mexico City has to offer its guests throughout the year. For all of them, and many other reasons – including the Grand Prix– Mexico is an ideal destination for an truly well rounded vacation.

When planning your visit, keep in mind that – with a few exceptions – most museums and archaeological sites are closed on Mondays. In addition, also worth noting is that not all of the museums have explanations translated into English so you may want to hire a guide or rent an English audio guide.

A wide variety of tickets and hospitality packages are still available for the F1 Mexican Grand Prix 2016, for further details please visit:

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