Mexico City’s Museum of Popular Art

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By John Mitchell

Mexico City supposedly has over 150 museums, more than any other city in the world. I haven’t personally counted or explored them all. But on my last visit to Mexico City, I did get a chance to check out the latest addition to the list.

The Museo de Arte Popular (MAP) is located downtown one block south of the Parque Alameda Central inside a handsome Art Deco building that would look perfectly at home in Gotham City. This former police and fire station may seem an unlikely spot for a museum, but it is one of the best of its kind in the country, bringing together folk art from all of Mexico’s 31 states.

Inaugurated on February 28, 2006, this new museum now showcases some 2000 contemporary and traditional pieces reflecting Mexico’s cultural and geographical diversity. The collections — which range from fanciful papier maché and ceramic sculptures (see photo above) to colorful indigenous costumes and religious art — are arrayed in spacious, well-lighted galleries occupying two upper floors. Descriptions in both Spanish and English accompany the exhibits, and video screens show the production of various crafts as well as festivals and dances from around the country. On the building’s ground floor is one of the best-stocked handicrafts stores that I’ve come across in Mexico City. There is also a peaceful courtyard café that makes an ideal spot to decompress in after roaming the city’s bustling streets.

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The Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Popular Art) is located at Revillagigedo 11, corner of Independencia in downtown Mexico City. Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Admission is 40 Mexican pesos (about US$4.00).

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