Mexico City’s Best Free Museums

Museo del Estanquillo | © Luisalvaz / WikiCommons
Museo del Estanquillo | © Luisalvaz / WikiCommons
Photo of Lauren Cocking
Northern England Writer24 April 2017

For the budget-conscious traveller, there is really no better destination than Mexico City. The drinks are cheap, the street food is incredibly affordable, and even the culture can be accessed for free (at least one day a week, anyway!). Plus, flights in and out of the Mexican capital are constantly becoming more budget-friendly. With that in mind, here are the best free museums in Mexico City that you need to check out.

Always free

Museo Soumaya

This museum is arguably the best of the bunch when it comes to free museums in Mexico City. The Museo Soumaya, named after the late wife of its private owner Carlos Slim, is housed in a jaw-droppingly spectacular modernist building in the upscale neighbourhood of Polanco, and the art held within isn’t half bad either. From Tamayo murals and 20th-century Mexican works to the ever-changing temporary expositions on the top floor, it also boasts a wealth of European art from the Old Masters. And it’s completely free, every day.

Museo Soumaya | © Razi Machay/Flickr

Museo Nacional de la Acuarela

Visitors often overlook the Museo Nacional de la Acuarela, situated in the lovely neighbourhood of Coyoacán, in favour of the bigger name art destinations in the area – the MUAC and Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul spring to mind. However, this small but beautifully formed museum offers up the city’s best watercolour art collection, with over 300 pieces that show off the versatility of this underrated art form. The best thing? It’s a not-for-profit spot, meaning that entry is completely free year-round.

Museo Nacional de la Acuarela | © AlejandroLinaresGarcia/WikiCommons

Museo del Estanquillo

Housing the personal collection of famed Mexican writer Carlos Monsiváis, the Museo del Estanquillo is a fantastic, if eclectic at times, introduction to Mexico City’s museum circuit. The wide-ranging collection of everything from toys to books, paintings to advertisements, explains the choice of name – Estanquillo translates roughly to ‘small kiosk’ or ‘sundries store’, reflecting the seeming randomness of the objects housed within. If you’re interested in getting an insight into Mexican life and folk art, this is the place to be.

Museo del Estanquillo | © Luisalvaz / WikiCommons

Museo de la Charrería

Dedicated to all things charrería, the Museo de la Charrería is an excellent destination for those who are interested in one of the most Mexican art forms, the charreada. Centred around artefacts and information about the horseback sport, you can find saddles, lassos, and the evocative, iconic charro outfits within, some of which were once worn by (or belonged to) famous Mexican figures like revolutionary Francisco Villa. Even if you’ve never heard of charreada before, it’s well worth checking out – and it’s totally free!

A charreada in action | © Brooke Binkowski/Flickr

Palacio de Cultura Banamex (Antiguo Palacio de Iturbide)

Formerly known as the Palacio de Iturbide, the Palacio de Cultura Banamex is smack in the heart of the historic centre and a fantastic, forever-free museum, especially for children. Built as an extravagant wedding present by the Count of San Mateo Valparaíso, it is of Italian-influenced Baroque design, yet the use of tezontle for the façade highlights its very Mexican nature. Here you can find several rotating temporary art exhibitions and children’s workshops.

Palacio de Cultura Banamex | © Ralf Peter Reimann/Flickr

Sometimes free

Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (Sundays)

Sunday is an excellent day to visit museums in Mexico City if you’re a resident or hold a temporary residency visa, as many of the capital’s museums will allow you free entry. For those who are just passing through, this could make Sunday the worst day to visit as it’s often the most crowded. However, visiting the excellent Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes on a Sunday remains one of the must-do activities, as its collection of murals from Rivera, Tamayo and Siqueiros are fabulous. The Art Deco building is nothing to be sniffed at either.

Bellas Artes | © Alejandro de la Cruz/Flickr

Museo Nacional de Arte (Sundays)

Another spot worth taking a peek at on a Sunday is the Museo Nacional de Arte, located right in the heart of the historic centre and an easy walk from the aforementioned Bellas Artes. Known for its neoclassical building and its vast collection of Mexican art spanning some four centuries, the Museo Nacional de Arte is also an excellent spot to catch a glimpse of some of Mexico City’s famed Aztec Dancers. Other art museums that are free on Sundays include Museo Jumex, the Museo de Arte Moderno and Museo Tamayo.

Museo Nacional de Arte | © Jorge Elías/Flickr

Museo Dolores Olmedo (Tuesdays)

It may be called the Museo Dolores Olmedo, but it is actually far more Diego and Frida focused, and given that they’re two of the biggest names on the international Mexican art scene, many tourists flock to Mexico City to see their work. However, instead of heading to the expensive and busy Casa Azul, go to the free-on-Tuesdays and underrated Museo Dolores Olmedo. Aside from the art collection, the grounds are beautiful, and there are plenty of Xoloitzcuintle dogs of which to take photos!

Hairless dogs at Museo Dolores Olmedo | © loppear/Flickr

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