Mexico City’s Soumaya Museum Is in a League of its Own, Inside and Out

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The Museo Soumaya glitters in the sun in the busting Plaza Loreto district of Mexico City. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Among Mexico City’s many attractions is its extensive array of museums, 170 — second only to London.

Some of the megalopolis’ most well-known spaces include the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán, the National Museum of History and Anthropology in Chapultepec, and the Museum of Memory and the Memory and Tolerance Museum across from Alameda Park. 

The Museo de Bellas Artes’ permanent collection showcases over 20,000 architectural drawings, models, photographs, and other artifacts that provide insights into the evolution of Mexican architectural styles. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

But perhaps Mexico City’s most architecturally dazzling and collection-rich museum is the Museo Soumaya, which houses a collection of over 66,000 works of art.

One section of a mural by one of the art form’s greatest masters, David Alfaro Siqueiros. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The Soumaya is privately owned but is free and open to the public, with over two million visitors annually. 

The Soumaya is designed to be as easy as possible to access and features an enormous ramp that coils around the entire structure. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The museum was founded in 1994 by Carlos Slim Helú, who is, by virtually all measures, Mexico’s richest person. The collection was started by Slim’s wife, Soumaya Domit, who was an art lover herself. After she died in 1999, Slim continued to build the collection in her memory.

Oil painting by Flemish master, Peter Paul Rubens titled Putti with Lion, Bear, and a Chariot. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The museum is housed in Plaza Loreto and was designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero.

The Soumaya’s facade is covered in over 16,000 hexagonal tiles, which create a shimmering effect when the sun hits them. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Unsurprisingly, as Carlos Slim Helú made much of his fortune in the telecommunications industry, the museum also features vintage telecommunication equipment, which is quite interesting. 

A manual switchboard used in the early 20th century is in the telecommunications section of the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Past the security screening, visitors are greeted by an imposing lifesize marble reproduction of Michelangelo’s David.

Once inside the museum itself, it quickly becomes clear that the architecture of this awe-inspiring building is itself as impressive as any of the works it contains, and that is really saying something. 

A marble sculpture by the renowned Colombian Artist Fernando Botero (1932). Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The museum’s collection spans a wide range of eras and styles, from pre-Columbian art to contemporary art. It includes works by renowned artists such as Auguste Rodin, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Frida Kahlo. 

A section of a massive trace outline by Diego Riviera depicts his wife, Frida Kahlo. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The museum has a strong focus on Mexican art, with works by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Works like Flor de Bajío by Eduardo Cataño (1962) have become so iconic to contemporary Mexican culture that they are immediately recognizable to virtually everyone in the country. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The Museo Soumaya is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., though it is a good idea to get there a little early as it can get really packed, especially on weekends. 

If you are looking for a great place to stay while in CDMX or virtually anywhere in Central Mexico consider checking out properties by Tesoros de Mexico for outstanding independently owned and operated accommodations.  

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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