Most people only visit the center of Coyoacán, one of Mexico City’s most popular (and populous) boroughs, but there’s so much more to this sprawling urban space, especially for art lovers. Best known as the former home of Frida Kahlo, this is our 24-hour art lover’s guide to Coyoacán, for those who dare to venture beyond the center and explore some more underrated artistic hotspots.
The best place to start is at UNAM’s Espacio Escultórico, especially given that it both opens and shuts the earliest of all our artistic Coyoacán offerings. Situated right in the south of the delegación,you can only drop by on weekdays, but it’s worth the effort as this sculpture park is filled with some really beautiful and quirky exhibits, most notably the super Instagrammable, multi-colored square sculpture.
After you’ve wandered around the sculpture park for a while it’s best to move to the nearby MUAC which is also situated in Coyoacán’s massive Ciudad Universitaria district. It opens at 10AM and is best for those who love contemporary art, given that it has a permanent archive of pieces from a vast selection of artists, as well as a solid reputation for hosting temporary exhibits by fascinating names like Anish Kapoor.
If you have time, make a brief stop at UNAM’s Central Library, which is best known for its external artwork by famed Mexican muralist Juan O’Gorman. Both artist and architect, O’Gorman was actually born in Coyoacán, so stopping off at this highlight of the city is a real double whammy for art lovers in Coyoacán. If you really want to take a look inside as well, then it’s open from 8.30AM daily.
After exploring the art related spots in the south of the delegation, take the metro from Copilco up to the Viveros station. From there, you can enjoy a brisk stroll through the picturesque Viveros de Coyoacán to the most famous art destination of the area – La Casa Azul, a.k.a. Museo Casa Frida Kahlo. A veritable icon of the Mexican capital, it opens daily at 10AM, but be prepared to spend a decent chunk of time queuing for entry. Go on a weekday to mitigate potential wait time.
An optional destination for art lovers in Coyoacán is Diego Rivera’s house, which is somewhat removed from the other sights and sounds of the neighborhood. Many tours offer entry to both La Casa Azul and Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, including transport to and from the latter. If you’re interested in pre-Hispanic artifacts and are a fan of Rivera murals, then it is well worth investing the time to visit, but otherwise, stick to the center for an on-foot exploration.
Well-known as the market where Frida Kahlo did her shopping and lunching, the Mercado de Coyoacán is a must-visit of the neighborhood, especially if you love food. However, it’s also ideal for art lovers given the amount of quirky artesanías you can find on sale here; there’s everything from delicately hand painted mirrors that will slip neatly in your hand luggage, to elegant glass products and traditional Mexican dolls. Keep in mind that it’s highly tourist oriented and that reflects in the prices.
Once you’ve been to the market, the exploration of Coyoacán center can begin. It’s worth noting that the following art hotspots can be done in any order you choose, but we think that a quick stop-off at the Museo Nacional de la Acuarela wouldn’t go amiss post-lunchtime. As the city’s only (as far as we know) watercolor museum, it makes for an enchanting visit and one that surely shows a different, lesser-seen side to Mexican art.
Arte Hoy Galería,Ciudad de México | Courtesy of Arte Hoy
Moving on from the watercolor museum, head to one of the better contemporary art galleries in the center of Coyoacán, Arte Hoy. Just two blocks from the heart of the neighborhood, this gallery was inaugurated in 2011 and features a roster of artworks that principally center on the sculptural. It’s perfect if you also want to learn about 20th and 21st century Mexican art that perhaps goes a little deeper than the legendary, albeit ubiquitous, Frida Kahlo.
Avoid Casa de Luna at around the hours of 2PM-3PM each day as they shut for lunch, but outside of these hours definitely try and stop by. Making for a more intimate artesaníabuying experience, the long-standing Casa de Luna sells all manner of arts and crafts items, from nichosto jewelry, and even Day of the Dead souvenirs. The thing that sets it apart from the many similar Coyoacán stores however, is the contemporary art gallery that sits above it.
A final stop off point on your art tour of Coyoacán – the Museo Nacional de las Culturas Populares. A key destination in the city as a whole, it also conveniently stays open til 8PM on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so you can enjoy the art into the evening. From huge courtyard murals, to quaint patios and rotating exhibitions that explore the wealth of Mexican artistic heritage, the Museo Nacional de las Culturas Populares is one you won’t want to miss.
This is something you’ll hopefully have been doing the whole day as you go from place to place checking out the sights and sounds of Coyoacán’s art scene, but it’s worth mentioning either way. There’s no point exploring all the museums, sculpture parks and galleries in Coyoacán without stopping to soak up the ever-shifting art you can find on the streets, too. In fact, this neighborhood has some of the best in the city.