An Art Lover’s Guide to Mexico City

From its internationally acclaimed museums to traditional folk art, Mexico City is a global powerhouse for artistic expression and a must-see destination for art lovers.

Jun 11, 2024By Matt Dursum, BA Geography and GIS Systems

art lover s guide mexico city


Colorful, traditional, and revolutionary, Mexico’s art has forever altered the world of human expression. If you want to experience art as diverse and celebrated as Mexico’s for the first time, no place is better than its capital Mexico City. Among its crowded streets are endless museums, galleries, markets, and street artists who are continuing traditions and breaking them all in the same breath.


Exploring the Art of Mexico City

valeria ortega cdmx soumaya
Museo Soumaya, by Valeria Ortega. Source: Unsplash


No matter where you go in the city, you’ll find exquisite works by some of the most influential artists the world has ever seen such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and José Clemente Orozco. You’ll also find traditional folk art, pieces by up-and-coming artists, and street artists such as El Norteño who are taking modern Mexican art to new heights. And then, outside the ornate museums and famous private galleries, in the city’s hundreds of neighborhoods, you’ll find the independent artists who sell their work at fairs, markets, and on the street. Graffiti artists and nameless muralists continue the city’s legacy of bending the rules to make everything uniquely Mexican. If you’re an art lover and it’s your first time in Mexico City, don’t miss the destinations below. These places are the perfect starting points to dive into the incredibly diverse, revolutionary, and influential world of Mexican art.


8. Palacio de Bellas Artes

mexico city bellas artes cdmx
Palacio de Bellas Artes Building. Source:


Near the iconic Torre Latinoamerica in Mexico City’s Centro Histórico is the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This beautiful theater and concert hall is home to some of the country’s most celebrated murals and one of the city’s best art museums. As soon as you enter the expansive building, you’ll experience its fantastic architecture firsthand. Combined, Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs create a space unlike anything else in the city. Italian architect Adamo Boari designed the building in 1904. Following the long and violent Mexican Revolution, it was finally finished in 1934.


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The museum houses permanent murals and revolving expositions by some of the country’s top artists. You’ll see works by famous artists such as Francisco Castro Leñero and the influential painter and sculptor Federico Silva. One of Mexico’s most beloved murals, Diego Rivera’s Man, Controller of the Universe stretches over the wall. The giant mural takes you through the contrary forces of socialism and capitalism, showing an everyday worker in the middle controlling everything. Amongst the historical figures in the mural are Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, and Leon Trotsky.


7. Museo Nacional de Antropología

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Museo Nacional de Antropología by Ricardo Loaiza. Source: Unsplash


This impressive Anthropology Museum ranks as one of the world’s great museums. It showcases thousands of years of Mexican artwork among its priceless historical artifacts. For any art fan, no visit to Mexico City would be complete without wandering its rooms.


Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez designed this expansive space in 1964. It has 23 rooms, each containing hundreds of artifacts from the entirety of Mexican history, from the Olmecs and Toltecs to the Maya and Aztecs. There are endless mediums represented here, including carvings, murals, pottery, and other folk art. Each hall has informative explanations of the period and artistic styles. Many of these styles are still reflected in modern Mexican works, including the murals of Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, and the world-renowned sculptor Sebastián.


Some of the most famous works of pre-Columbian art, including murals from ancient Teotihuacán, royal headdresses, and prehistoric carvings, are displayed next to ancient carvings and sacred artifacts. If you can spend the day here, try traveling counterclockwise through the exhibit halls on your own or even consider joining one of the free guided tours to learn even more about the breathtaking museum and its collection.


6. Frida Kahlo Museum

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Frida Kahlo Museum. Source: Museo Frida Kahlo


In the neighborhood of Coyoacan is one of Mexico City’s most beloved museums—the Frida Kahlo Museum. Few landmarks in the city attract as many art lovers as this humble but lovely museum.


The museum is located in Frida Kahlo’s home, where she spent most of her life. Inside, she painted some of her most famous masterpieces, including works completed just before her death. You can see the bed she began painting in after her tragic bus accident, which almost killed her at age 18, with its reflective ceiling mirror and the many brushes and stencils she used to create her masterpieces.


Downstairs are her now iconic outfits. Her corsets and dresses and her headscarves depict the artist’s evolution as a public figure and fashion icon. Her journals and sketches are also on display, as well as childhood memorabilia and some of her earliest drawings, giving visitors an intimate look into her life.


5. Visit the Museo Soumaya

Museo Soumaya Building. Source:


As soon as you see the glimmering futuristic monolith in the Polanco neighborhood, you’ll likely freeze and stare up at its design. Even if you skip going inside, the giant Museo Soumaya building is a work of art worth seeing. This private museum houses a huge rotating collection of over 60,000 works. The pieces on display range from pre-Hispanic Mexican treasures and international classics to modern thought-provoking works. Inside, a winding white walkway takes you to the upper levels. You’ll see exhibitions of masterpieces by Tintoretto, El Greco, Monet, and many more on the 3rd and 4th floors. On the 5th floor, you will find temporary exhibitions and special events. The top floor has works by Salvador Dalí, Auguste Rodin, and Émile-Antoine Bourdelle.


4. Museo Jumex

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Museo Jumex exterior. Source: Museo Jumex, Mexico


Eugenio López Alonso, heir to the Grupo Jumex juice corporation, started the art foundation Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo in 1994. He began traveling and collecting fine art, hoping to inspire a new generation of Mexican artists. From his collection, Alonso created the Museo Jumex in 2013 next to the Museo Soumaya in Polanco. It was designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning British architect David Chipperfield. Since then, it has become one of Mexico City’s most visited and respected art museums.


You can take guided tours or enjoy the collections at your own pace. You’ll see work by Andy Warhol and other internationally renowned artists, as well as pieces made by up-and-coming Mexican painters and sculptures. Museo Jumex has temporary exhibitions, including immersive spaces, from some of the country’s best talent. When you’re done, don’t miss a visit to the gift shop and cafe. Grab an art book or quirky souvenir and cozy up with a cup of coffee after appreciating Museo Jumex’s outstanding collections.


3. University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC)

The MUAC facade and grounds. Source: MUAC, Mexico


A little over 30 minutes south of the historic city center on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico is the MUAC. At over 14,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest art museums in the city. Architect Teodoro Gonzalez designed the building, giving fans of modern architecture another reason to visit. Inside, you’ll find an impressive revolving collection of over 2000 pieces of contemporary Mexican art housed inside beautiful interior galleries. The museum opened in 2008 and has since worked to inspire and further Mexican contemporary art through not only its exhibitions but education, community programs, and workshops as well.


Inside the museum, you’ll find paintings, video installations, drawings, and works made in various other mediums. These priceless pieces are from the 1950s until the present day, with immersive thought-provoking exhibits to go along with them. After your visit, don’t miss the Nube Siete cafe. Here, you can drink excellent coffee while seated on a glass bottom platform over dramatic volcanic rock and stones. The food is also worth coming for.


2. Walk Around the National Autonomous University of Mexico

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UNAM Central Library. Source: UNAM, Mexico


Once you’ve finished enjoying art at MUAC, don’t miss a walk around the campus grounds and the nearby ecological preserve to see more amazing pieces. The National Autonomous University of Mexico is one of Latin America’s largest and most acclaimed universities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within its grounds are some of the best murals and art installations in the city.


Start your visit at the ecological preserve, lying just north of the MUAC and between campus. This space is home to the Espacio Escultórico, an open collection of large installations and sculptures set within the forest. You’ll get to walk through striking outdoor masterpieces by artists such as Manuel Felguérez and Federico Silva.


Just to the north of the ecological reserve, you can visit the striking murals of the UNAM Central Library’s facade. This ten-story library is covered with stone murals by artist and architect Juan O’Gorman. Each mural depicts the long and dramatic history of Mexico. Its north wall represents the country’s indigenous past, while its south shows its colonization. The east wall represents modern Mexico and the west symbolizes the university.


1. Mexico City’s Museo de Arte Popular

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Museo de Arte Popular Paintings. Source:


If you love folk art, the Centro Historico’s Museo de Arte popular is a must-see. Inside this beautiful Art déco building is one of the country’s largest collections of Mexican folk art. You’ll see some of the finest examples of traditional folk art through the ages, from pottery to textiles, weavings to jewelry. Most of the pieces are from indigenous artists and showcase the rich diversity of Mexican handicraft design. The museum also organizes events like the Japón / México exhibition, which features traditional lacquerware from Mexico and Japan. These rotating events give many art fans a window into Mexico’s influence on global art through the ages.


Once you’re done visiting, don’t miss the gift shop. This charming store is run by a non-profit whose work is dedicated to helping Indigenous artists sell their work and earn a fair wage. The store contains small pieces from around Mexico. You can buy small gifts or even traditional clothing pieces.

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By Matt DursumBA Geography and GIS SystemsMatt is a freelance writer and journalist from Michigan who’s currently living in South America. When he’s not writing, Matt is studying languages — so far Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, and French — visiting museums, surfing, and traveling.