An Art Lover’s Guide to Coyoacán in 24 Hours

Kitchen in the Blue House (La Casa Azul), historic house and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo
Kitchen in the Blue House (La Casa Azul), historic house and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo | © Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

Northern England Writer

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.

1. Espacio Escultórico

Park

Espacio Escultórico
© echelonbaxter@ymail.com/Flickr
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.

2. MUAC

Museum

MUAC
© Roberto Lopez/Flickr
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.

3. Central Library

Building, Library, University

Central Library
© Carlos Álvarez/Flickr
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.

5. Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli

5. Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli
© Randal Sheppard/Flickr

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.

Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, Museo 150, San Pablo Tepetlapa, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5617 3797

Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli | © Randal Sheppard/Flickr

6. Mercado de Coyoacán

Market

Day of the Dead skulls in the Mercado de Coyoacán
© Guillerminargp/WikiCommons
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.

7. Museo Nacional de la Acuarela

Market, Museum

Museo Nacional de la Acuarela
© AlejandroLinaresGarcia/WikiCommons
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.

8. Arte Hoy

Art Gallery, Museum

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.

9. Casa de Luna

Art Gallery, Museum

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.

10. Museo Nacional de las Culturas Populares

Museum

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.

Wander the streets and look at the street art

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.

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