It’s no secret that Mexico is a great destination for art lovers and aficionados, but many may not appreciate the wealth of artistic life beyond the (admittedly fantastic) capital city. Whether you head north to Monterrey, or want to sun yourself on the peninsulas of either Baja or Yucatán, you can rest assured that there’s an art gallery for you. Here are the top art galleries across Mexico that you must visit.
Monterrey is not a well-trodden destination on the Mexico backpacker trail, given that it’s tucked out of the way in the north-eastern state of Nuevo León. However, if you decide to give this city a go, then you shouldn’t miss what is undoubtedly one of its top attractions – the MARCO (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey) gallery. Easy to spot on the central plaza as a result of its giant bronze palomastatue the MARCO has a reputation for attracting excellent temporary exhibits like Dreamworks Animation: Journey From Sketch to Screen.
Owned by art collectors Mónica Manzutto and her husband José Kuri, the latter of whom is brother to one of Mexico’s finest artists, Gabriel Kuri, the portmanteau Kurimanzutto is one of Mexico City’s stalwart contemporary galleries and a reference point for new trends. Known for representing several world class artists, including Mexican superstars Gabriel Orozco and Dr. Lakra, as well as international installation specialists like South Korean Haegue Yang, Kurimanzutto is an unmissable art destination in the capital city.
Our second Mexico City entry comes in the form of Carlos Slim’s exceptional Plaza Carso based Museo Soumaya. Known for its iconic architecture, which features smooth lines formed of geometric components and a bright white interior, the Soumaya museum also houses one of the best (and private) collections of European art from many of the Old Masters, as well as several examples of Mexican creative output too. Plus, it’s ideal if you’re on tight budget, as it’s free to check out 365 days a year.
Sergio Bustamente is a Sinaloa-born, Guadalajara-based sculptor and painter who is also the eponymous artist on show at this tapatío art gallery, Galería Sergio Bustamente. His easily recognisable style of warped bodies, rounded faces and animal-themed offerings is surrealism at its best and oddly reminiscent of some of Leonora Carrington’s sculpture at times. Best known for his bronze work, you can also find wooden pieces too and if you’re at all interested in the work of this Mexican artist, Tlaquepaque’s Galería Sergio Bustamente is a must.
An unsurprisingly picturesque destination in the quaint colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Fábrica La Aurora makes for an Instagram backdrop, favourite of notable Mexican influencers like Sofía Lascurain among others. Once a textile mill, the renovated complex now houses cafés, stores and several galleries, including the Beatriz Castañeda Galería and Galería 910 to name but a few, which makes it the ideal spot for an all-encompassing art-exploring afternoon out.
Spotlighting Yucatecan artists is the trademark of Galería Mérida, which brings together contemporary and fine art in the heart of this colonial city. In fact, the building in which Galería Mérida is housed is an excellent example of the colonial architecture that dominates much of the historic centre and the tiled floors are practically artworks in their own right. Whether you like painting, sculpture or photography, there will be an exhibit for you at Galería Mérida and the exhibitions are regularly updated. Don’t miss the patios at the back.
Art gallery edifices don’t get more spectacular than Puebla’s fantastic Capilla del Arte, which brings together a contemporary gallery, a mini reading room and an artistic forum under one roof. This high-ceilinged masterpiece was only inaugurated in 2009 and has since hosted pieces by nationally (and internationally) acclaimed artists like Gabriel Orozco, José Luis Cuevas, Diego Rivera, Abraham Cruzvillegas and Teresas Margolles, the latter of whom is perhaps best known at the moment for her contribution to the femicide exhibition at the MYT, Mexico City.
Often abbreviated to MACO, Oaxaca’s Museo de Arte Contemporáneo brings together global contemporary pieces with traditional, local art and artists like the famed Francisco Toledo, fusing the two into an impressively curated set of exhibition rooms. As with some of the other entries on this list, it’s not just the art that’s the draw either, but also the building – MACO is housed in one of Oaxaca’s oldest colonial buildings, dating from the 17th century. Don’t forget to check out Patio C either, with its bold use of colour and regularly updated exhibitions.
Moving other to the other side of the country, we find San José del Cabo’sGalería Ida Victoria, which specialises in exhibiting the work of both emerging and established artists and has regularly been voted the best art gallery in the region – impressive, when you consider the artsy reputation of the area! Every taste is catered for here, but it seems that most of the represented artists are drawn to vibrant, eclectic styles that make for beautifully bright and appealing pieces.
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Galería MUY, Chiapas
While Chiapas has an artsy reputation, and is wildly popular among backpackers, the art galleries of the state are often overlooked. However, we think that San Cristóbal de las Casas’ Galería MUY (which means pleasure in Tzotzil) absolutely deserves to be considered one of the country’s top galleries, due to its impressive dedication to exploring and exhibiting the work of artists for the pueblos originarios of Chiapas. You’ll find everything from multimedia to performance art in this inclusive space and it’s ideally located right in the historic centre of the city.