The Best Museums Across Mexico You Must Visit

Mexico's rich history and culture provide ample material for the country's best museums, including the Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara
Mexico's rich history and culture provide ample material for the country's best museums, including the Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara | © Diego Grandi / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lauren Cocking
Northern England Writer28 September 2020

Considering Mexico’s vast and vibrant history, it’s no wonder that the country has an impressive museum culture. The capital alone reportedly has over 150 museum options, but the rest of Mexico also has much to offer. From the Museo Nacional de Historia City in Mexico City to the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán, here are the must-visit museums across Mexico.

Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City

Museum
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Museo Nacional de Antropologia Mexico City Mexico
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Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology is the country’s top tourist attraction and easily one of the world’s most simultaneously ambitious yet comprehensively curated museums. Covering the Mesoamerican and pre-Hispanic history of Mexico, the exhibits will keep you occupied for days. From pottery and jade remnants to the famed Aztec sunstone, the tomb of Mayan ruler Pakal and the headdress that allegedly belonged to Moctezuma, there is sure to be something that piques your interest here.

Museo Nacional de la Muerte, Aguascalientes

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If you’re feeling morbid and find yourself in the less-traversed and underrated state of Aguascalientes, then the Museo Nacional de la Muerte would make for the ideal place to stop by. Only inaugurated in 2007, this museum covers everything from the iconography of death in Mexico (think sugar skulls and papel picado) to exhibits on funeral culture in the country. From the nation that brought you the Day of the Dead, this is one unmissable and unique museum.

Museo Nacional de Historia, Mexico City

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Popular for its location within the historically fascinating Castillo de Chapultepec, this neo-gothic building was once the home of royalty. Now it houses collections ranging from the conquest of Mexico to the Revolution. Walk up, or hop on the train if it’s a hot day, and don’t forget to explore the gardens and enjoy the wonderful views over Paseo de la Reforma and the Bosque itself.

Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato, Guanajuato

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Mexico Central America America Guanajuato city UNESCO World heritage site Museo de las Momias South America Fe
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If you want something a little out of the ordinary and totally one-of-a-kind, then visit Guanajuato’s famed Museo de las Momias. Here, you’ll find a collection of eerily well-preserved mummies that were discovered in the Panteón Santa Paula. It’s said that it was the unique conditions of the soil that helped preserve them so perfectly, and they’ve since become one of the symbols of Guanajuato and its rich, albeit unsettling at times, culture. This is something you can’t miss if you stop by the colonial city of Guanajuato.

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, Oaxaca

Botanical Garden, Monastery, Museum
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Just next to the emblematic Templo de Santo Domingo in the center of Oaxaca City’s historic downtown is the excellent Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca. Set in the temple’s former monastery, the collection curated in this museum covers the breadth of Oaxacan cultural history with a focus on indigenous culture. However, it’s not all about the exhibits at Museo de las Culturas, as the views from the massive windows are literally picture-perfect, and the spectacular botanical garden is another often overlooked highlight of the museum.

Horno3, Monterrey

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Beautiful despite its outwardly industrial appearance, Horno3 is a fascinating and iconic Monterrey attraction. It effortlessly combines history with interactive science and technology exhibits that are guaranteed to grab your attention. In terms of the historical context provided at Horno3, you can learn more about the steel industry of Monterrey which sounds boring, but it’s really not, all while wandering through the grounds and furnaces that once belonged to one of the area’s biggest manufacturers.

Museo Internacional del Barroco, Puebla

Building, Museum
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Mexico, Puebla town, Model of the city of Puebla de los Angeles in the International Museum of the Baroque.
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Puebla’s Museo Internacional del Barroco is an architectural feat of modernity. An award-winning museum, Toyo Ito designed it as a curvy white building that contains the International Baroque Museum. As a city heavily influenced by the Baroque aesthetic, this museum seeks to explore the artistic movement that defines so much of modern-day Puebla’s appeal and architecture. Anyone with an interest in art history will be thrilled.

Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara

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Easily one of Guadalajara’s most recognizable and impressive edifices, the Hospicio Cabañas is also a fantastic museum. It is best known for the stunning José Clemente Orozco mural, Hombre de Fuego, that can be found inside. Originally constructed in 1791, the Hospicio was previously an orphanage and hospital among other things and was eventually reopened as a museum. It is filled with impressive exhibits from the aforementioned Orozco, as well as Polish artist Mathias Goeritz. There are also curated temporary exhibitions hosted here from time to time.

Museo de la Ballena y Ciencias del Mar, La Paz

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Up there as one of the country’s best natural history museums, La Paz’s Museo de la Ballena y Ciencias del Mar is an exceptional example of the cultural treats that can be found on the Baja Peninsula, proving that the area isn’t just full of celebrity hangouts and surf spots. As you can imagine, the museum is centered on marine life and is all about educating visitors on the world that exists beneath the surface of the water.

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

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Palace Bellas Artes, Mexico City
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The Palacio de Bellas Artes has hosted some of the most iconic events in Mexico City, as the building was once home to the National Theater. However, it was due to be renovated, but the decision to demolish it was abandoned, and another was built in 1901 next to the Alameda Central. The top floor of the building is now home to the Museo Nacional de Arquitectura. Covered by the glass and iron roof, the museum contains exhibitions from renowned Mexican architects including models, designs and photographs of major works; it’s no surprise it is nicknamed Mexico’s ‘Cathedral of Art’.

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida, Mérida

Museum, Ruins
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Mexican history isn’t all about the Aztecs, and the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida is a reminder of that. Located in everyone’s favorite colonial town of Mérida, the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya is where you’ll be treated to an in-depth rundown of Mayan culture through exhibits that touch upon textiles, religious relics and jewelry. However, the exhibitions aren’t the only draw, as the stunning modern architecture of the museum itself is spectacular.

Frida Kahlo Museum, Coyoacán

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Casa Azul (or the Blue House) was also known as Frida Kahlo’s private universe. This little house was where the artist was born and also where she died. Frida lived in many different places in the world, but she always returned to her family home in Coyoacán. In 1958, a few years after her death, her home was made into a museum. It’s now one of the most popular museums in Mexico, and some of her most important artistic work is displayed on the walls.

Museo Soumaya, Mexico City

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Mexico Mexico City Ciudad de Federal District Distrito DF D.F. CDMX Hispanic Mexican Colonia Granada Plaza Carso Museo Soumaya Museum Carlos Slim priv
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Located in the Plaza Loreto, Museo Soumaya opened its doors 25 years ago. In 2011, its new building was inaugurated as an urban reconstruction project and engineering challenge. Owned by a non-profit organization, it aims to collect research, preserve and disseminate its artworks alongside the historical heritage of Mexico and share its findings with the public. The establishment also recognizes female and European artists from the past. A visit here is an aesthetic way to expand your knowledge through the appreciation of the many temporary, permanent and traveling exhibitions.

Memory and Tolerance Museum, CDMX

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This aptly named museum has a strong and powerful mission: to spread the importance of tolerance, non-violence, memory and human rights. It achieves its mission by raising awareness in each and every one of its tours and exhibitions. Constantly updating, improving and renewing its content, it promotes reflection and social action. A visit here is sure to make you leave with a new outlook and your own mission.

Templo Mayor Museum, Mexico City

Building, Cathedral, Museum, Ruins
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Originally named the Huēyi Teōcalli in the Nahuatl language of the Mexica people, the Templo Mayor was the main temple of the time and was situated in the capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now known as Mexico City. Templo Mayor has an architectural style that belongs to the late postclassic period of Mesoamerica, and in 1987 the museum dedicated to it was built. Now, the project is to excavate the oldest area of the city around the main plaza and find out more about this ancient world.

Additional reporting by Vanessa Gainford

These recommendations were updated on September 28, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.