Mexico City is home to some 150 museums, the most of any city in the world apart form Paris.
These museums range from Mexican folk art and modern art to an excellent children’s museum and Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul. There are also a whole range of quirky museums such as the Museum of Everyday Objects and the Museum of Footwear.
Many of these museums are great for kids too but where do you start when you have so many to choose from? During the six years that we lived in the capital we managed to narrow down our choices and have come up with the 12 best museums in Mexico City.
Updated for 2020. Some museums may be temporarily closed owing to Covid-19, please check the museum websites before visiting.
Remember that most museums are shut on a Monday. For popular places, such as the Museo Frida Kahlo, it’s worth booking a ticket online in advance.
[author] [author_info]Wondering what else to do in Mexico City? Take a look at 50 of our favourite sights and activities in the capital. We also recommend exploring the ancient canals of Xochimilco, touring the Centro Historico on the Turibus, and eating the best churros in town at El Moro. [/author_info] [/author]
Mexico City Museums
1. Museo de Arte Popular
Located near to the Palacio de Bellas Artes in the Centro Historico is the Museo de Arte Popular. The museum focuses on traditional and popular Mexican Art. Rooms are divided by theme and include the ‘Roots of Mexican Art’ and the ‘Roots of crafts and Popular Art’.
On display are various art forms such as ceramics, textiles, pottery, glass and brightly painted wooden toys – great for kids! The museum also holds regular displays such as the annual piñata competition, when colourful piñatas hang from the museum’s main foyer.
The Museo de Arte Popular is also the sponsor of the yearly Noche de Alebrijes (Night of the Alebrijes). This parade sees fantastical creatures paraded from the Zocalo to the Angel of Independence.
One word of warning, this is the only museum I’ve been to in Mexico City where the museum staff get a little funny with kids. Almost before we’ve even entered a room I’ve been told to keep an eye on my children and to make sure they don’t touch anything.
Besides this, however, it’s a fun outing and the museum holds regular art workshops for kids. Oh, and they have a fantastic shop on the ground floor too
Address: Calle Revillagigedo 11, Centro Histórico
2. Museo Interactivo de Economia (MIDE)
The Interactive Museum of Economics (Museo Interactive de Economia) may sound dry but it’s a fascinating museum for kids, particularly those aged 10 years and older.
Located in an old convent in the Centro Historico, MIDE is the first museum in the world dedicated exclusively to economy, finance and sustainable development. It has four permanent galleries: growth and welfare, finance in society, fundamentals of economics and sustainable development.
There are also temporary exhibitions such as coins in history or how to be an entrepreneur. All these spaces have been designed to expose children (and adults!) to useful concepts about the economy.
Exhibits are interactive and hands-on. Kids can learn everything from how the stock market works, how to save money by consuming less water and how to make money.
There are tours for children and games and apps on the museum’s website. The museum is predominantly in Spanish although staff are very helpful and there is usually someoneon hand who speaks English.
Address: Tacuba 17, Centro Histórico,
3. El Castillo de Chapultepec
One of the most interesting places to visit in Chapultepec Park is El Castillo de Chapultepec, Chapultepec Castle.
Sitting at the top of Cerro de Chapulin (Hill of the Grasshoppers), this location has played an important role for Mexicans since pre-Hispanic times. Below the castle you’ll see the remains of aqueducts that once carried water to the capital Tenochtitlan. There are also, reportedly, some Aztec-era stone carvings at the base of the hill but we have yet to find them!
The castle itself has had something of a tumultuous history. It has played the role of royal residence, military academy and presidential home. Today it’s Mexico’s National History Museum.
There’s lots of space to roam, some fantastic views over the city on clear days and the exhibitions are interesting, even for children. Rooms are dedicated to different periods in Mexican history as well as the history of the castle.
During holiday periods, the castle holds workshops for kids.
Address: Section 1, Chapultepec Park
4. El Papalote, Museo del Niño
I can not tell you how surprised we were when we arrived in Mexico City and discovered El Papalote. This is such a great museum for children, the kind of innovative, hands-on place that you would expect to find in London or New York.
Not surprisingly, kids love it here.
Kids can pretend to work at a supermarket or join an archaeological dig, they can create enormous bubbles or make an animated film. Everything is designed to be entertaining and educational and you can easily spend an entire day here. The IMAX theatre is also fun but note that movies are in Spanish only.
Papalote gets busy; arrive at opening time to enjoy a couple of crowd-free hours.
Address: Av. Constituyentes 268 Col. Daniel Garza, Delegación Miguel Hidalgo
5. Museo Nacional de Antropologia
The incredible Museo Nacional de Antropología, National Anthropology Museum, is home to the world’s largest collections of archaeological and anthropological artefacts from pre-Hispanic Mayan civilisations.
It’s also the most visited museum in the country.
For kids, it’s an intriguing museum to visit as well and an easy one to navigate. Aztec and Mayan history is filled with conquests and sacrifice and even the most history-wary child will find stories of ball games played to the death fascinating. Highlights include the enormous carved Sun Stone, or Aztec Calendar, and the Jade mask of the Zapotec Bat God.
The second floor has exhibits about Mexico’s present-day indigenous groups and it’s fun for kids to see the different traditional dress and costumes. And finally, it’s worth visiting to witness El Paraguas, the vast square concrete ‘umbrella’ in the main courtyard that is supported by a single pillar.
Address: Paseo de la Reforma (crossroads with Gandhi), Chapultepec Polanco
6. Museo del Juguete Antiguo México
One of the capital’s more quirky museums is the Museum of Antique Toys. It was established by Roberto Shimizu, a Mexican of Japanese descent, who started the museum after amassing a huge personal collection of toys.
For those who grew up in the 80s and 90s it’s a wonderful trip down memory lane.
The rooms are stuffed with model trains, plastic superhero figures (the original ones) and all manner of dolls. There are figures from the TV show He Man and, of course, lucha libre memorabilia.
It’s a little strange but a lot of fun and something both you and the kids will enjoy. Occasional exhibitions are also held here, we saw a PlayMobil one when we visited.
There is parking on site.
Address: Calle Dr. Olvera 15, Cuauhtémoc, Doctores
7. La Casa Azul
The most famous address in the southern neighbourhood of Coyoacán – and the most visited museum in Mexico City – is Frida Kahlo’s childhood home, La Casa Azul.
The house is filled with memories and personal items belonging to Frida and her husband, Mexican artist Diego Rivera. You’ll also see plenty of works by both artists. Kitchen implements, jewellery, traditional cookware, photographs, letters and postcards are on display throughout the museum’s 10 rooms.
It’s a fascinating glimpse into the lives of some of Mexico’s most famous artists and their bohemian, intellectual lifestyle.
I’ve visited the museum several times with my kids and they really enjoy the museum and find Kahlo’s life, fascinating. In particular, they enjoy wandering through the upstairs rooms where Frida Kahlo’s studio once was along with her bedrooms.
Activities for kids are often held on weekends. Book tickets in advance.
Address: Londres 247, Del Carmen Coyoacán
8. Universarium, Museo de las Ciencias
Located on UNAM’s main university campus in Coyoacán, in the south of Mexico City, is Universarium, a family-friendly science museum.
There are lots of fun activities for children including the chance to dress up as an astronaut and visit the moon. Interactive displays keep little hands busy but note that not all of them are always functioning. Permanent exhibitions explore everything from water and evolution to the planets and artificial intelligence. The room dedicated to mathematics, filled with 3D mirror sculptures, is surprisingly fun.
There are also regular temporary exhibitions on kid-friendly topics such as dinosaurs and space as well as workshops.
Address: Circuito Cultural de Ciudad Universitaria S/N, Coyoacán, Cd. Universitaria
9. El Templo Mayor
Every time I visit El Templo Mayor, The Great Temple, I’m amazed that excavation on this major archaeological site only began in 1978. Since that initial excavation digs have revealed 13 levels of construction dating from 1375 to 1519. It was only in 2011 that a ceremonial platform dating from 1469 was discovered.
This temple was the heart of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. It’s also where, according to legend, the Aztecs saw an eagle perching on a cactus with a snake in its beak.
The Templo Mayor has a gory history and saw many a human sacrifice. The stepped pyramid’s staircase is where the bodies of those sacrificed were thrown once they’d had their heart ripped out. Some kids find the blood and gore fascinating, others might prefer a more PG version.
The accompanying museum showcases all the objects discovered in the ruins and is fantastic. The photo above is of the carved round stone that once lay on the lower platform of the pyramid and depicts the severed limbs of the Aztec moon goddess Coyolxauhqui.
For more ideas on things to do in El Centro, take a look at this post.
Address: Seminario Núm. 8, Centro Histórico. When facing the Cathedral the Templo Mayor is to the right.
10. Museo Dolores Olmedo
Its worth visiting El Museo Dolores Olmedo just to admire the pretty gardens. Located in the south of the city, the museum is housed within a 17th-century hacienda. The grounds are filled with native flora where peacocks and xoloitzcuintles (Mexican hairless dogs) strut their stuff.
The museum is named after Dolores Olmedo, a socialite and patron of Diego Rivera. Today the museum houses 144 works by the artist. Also on display are paintings by Frida Kahlo. Workshops are held at weekends and include activities such as pinata-making.
Expect lots of colour and calaveras if you visit during Dia de Muertos celebrations. Check the website for details.
Address: Av. México 5843, Col. La Noria, Xochimilco.
11. MUCHO Mundo Chocolate
This is a fun outing for children with a sweet tooth. At MUCHO Mundo Chocolate you can learn about the origins of chocolate, its history and how it is made.
Regular weekend workshops are held, including ones for kids, where you can get your hands all gooey and chocolatey. Check the website for details. There’s a cafe on site with good coffee…and chocolate!
Address: Milán 45, esquina con Roma, Colonia Juárez
12. Los Pinos, the Presidential residence
Located in the heart of the Bosque de Chapultepec is the former Presidential Palace. The official residence and its grounds, which are 14 times larger than that of the White House, was the home for 14 of Mexico’s former leaders. When current the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, came to power however, he declared that the stately home should be for the people. On December 1 2018 the residence became a museum and the doors opened to the public.
Although not all the buildings are open the two main ones are. Casa Miguel Aleman was the home for most of the presidents and their families. In the basement you’ll find the security bunker and a private cinema. The other building that is open to the public is Casa Lazaro Cardenas, which was used as an office by the President and their staff. There’s little in the way of explanatory text but it’s still a fascinating glimpse into how Mexican presidents once lived.
Address: Av. Parque Lira S/N, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc