Mexico City is teeming with museums – over 150 of them in fact – which is no surprise considering its rich historical and cultural past. Mexico City actually takes the title of the city with the most museums, beating out stiff competition from New York and Paris. Obviously it would be impossible to visit them all (especially in just one visit,) so we’ve compiled the best art, history and culture museums in Mexico City that you need to visit if you’re ever in town.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
Located in Bosque de Chapultepec, a veritable big gun on the Mexico City museum scene is undoubtedly the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Anthropology Museum). Widely considered to be the best of Mexico City’s 150+ museums, it can be described only as sprawling. Permanent exhibitions are divided into archaeology and ethnology, with 11 separate rooms dedicated to each. Temporary exhibitions are also regularly rotated and curated, and the internal courtyard features the iconic, cascading water feature.
Museo Frida Kahlo
Museo Frida Kahlo is definitely the perfect balance of both art gallery and museum. Known as ‘The Blue House’ for its eye-catching color scheme, Museo Frida Kahlo is one of Mexico’s most instantly recognizable and iconic artistic exports. Her house-cum-gallery is a museum that’s a classic on the Mexico City scene, featuring serene gardens with cats nestling in and amongst the cacti. Each room is like walking into one of her paintings; immersive, vibrant and distinctly Frida.
Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5554 5999
Museo Nacional de Historia
Located within the imposing, neo-Gothic Castillo de Chapultepec constructed in the 1860s, Museo Nacional de Historia (National History Museum) is accessible on foot or by a quaint train journey – well worth the investment should you find yourself in one of Mexico City’s typical summer downpours. This magnificent museum offers regularly updated special expositions, as well as impressive permanent exhibits. The views over Chapultepec Park from the attached gardens are not to be sniffed at either.
Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes
A fixture of Mexico City’s historic center is the distinctive silhouette of the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes. An absolute must-see in the city, from both inside and out, it was at one time the first art museum in the capital. Thankfully, it’s been joined by many others since its inauguration in 1934 – however, it still ranks as one of the best.
Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5512 2593
If you don’t know the name, you’ll know the building. Designed by Fernando Romero and owned by Carlos Slim, Museo Soumaya is a curvaceous architectural masterpiece that calls the upscale Miguel Hidalgo district home. It is only rivaled in modern museum excellence by Bilbao’s Guggenheim. Inside, find a stunning range of works by the so-called European Old Masters, including French Auguste Rodin.
Museo de Arte Popular
Another artsy option makes our best Mexico City museum list, and with good reason. The Museo de Arte Popular is so much more than just spectacular pieces; it’s a window into Mexico’s artistic cultural history. With permanent exhibits divided into categories such as temporary shows like Ana María Casanueva’s ‘Con Las Manos En La Masa’ (‘Hands in the Dough’), it’s immersive and unmissable.
Calle Revillagigedo 11, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5510 2201
Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexico
This relatively youthful museum that opened in 2008 houses a private collection of thousands upon thousands of toys. Spread over four levels in the Cuauhtémoc area of Mexico City, the most recent addition is a room of toys made in Mexico. For some childhood nostalgia, you’ll find Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexico – a rare find. The top-floor library is worth checking out for the vibrant murals.
Calle Dr. Olvera 15, Cuauhtémoc, Doctores, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5588 2100
Museo Memoria y Tolerancia
Museo Memoria y Tolerancia is a museum dedicated to honoring and remembering the tragic atrocities committed by mankind. Permanent exhibitions focus on genocides such as the Holocaust, Darfur and Guatemala, as well as those that reflect on Mexico’s own cultural heritage and identity. Stark walls, minimal design and open-plan spaces make the experience all the more impactful.
Av. Juarez 8, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5130 5555
Museo Casa Luis Barragan
A masterpiece in modernist architecture, Museo Casa Luis Barragan is the only such individual building in Latin America that has received the honor of a UNESCO World Heritage site title. First built in 1948, the architecture is astounding and vividly displays Luis Barragan’s unique blend of Mexican and modernist perspectives. Preserved exactly as the architect left it, it now plays host to a fantastic museum.
Museo del Objeto del Objeto
Our final top Mexico City museum is located in the hipster Roma neighborhood and is as suitably quirky as you’d expect. Museo del Objeto del Objeto (Museum of the Purpose of the Object) specializes in intriguing themed exhibitions that are always excellently curated.
Colima 145, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Nte., Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5533 9637