Mexico City is home to some 150 museums, the most of any city in the world apart from Paris.
These museums range from Mexican folk art and modern art to an excellent children’s museum and Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, the Blue House. There are also a whole range of quirky museums such as the Museum of Everyday Objects and the Museum of Footwear.
But where do you start when there are so many museums to choose from? During the six years that we lived in Mexico City we managed to visit many of the capital’s museums and have whittled down our favourites these 21.
If you’re visiting Mexico City with kids, as a couple, with friends or you’re travelling solo then this list is for you! Yes, really. The one thing that Mexico City’s museums have in common is that they really are for everyone. Read on to discover the best museums in Mexico City.
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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.
Where to find the best museums in Mexico City
Mexico City Museums
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. The museum also holds regular exhibitions 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.
The museum runs regular workshops for kids on everything from paper maché to how to make amate paper. Oh, and there’s an excellent gift shop on the ground floor too.
Address: Calle Revillagigedo 11, Centro Histórico
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.
Today the artist’s childhood home has been transformed into the Frida Kahlo Museum and much of the house is how it was when she lived here with her family and later her husband, the Mexican artists Diego Rivera.
The house is filled with memories and personal items belonging to Frida and her husband including plenty of works by both artists displayed on the ground floor. 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.
Upstairs is Kahlo’s old studio, complete with paints and easel, and her bedroom.
A separate building houses an excellent exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe including headpieces, shoes, traditional Mexican dresses and several items of makeup, still in their original packaging. Also on display are a series of medical forests, back-braces and a prosthetic leg, all of which Kahlo rehired following her near-fatal tram crash at the age of 18.
Activities for kids are often held on weekends.
The museum is very popular so do make sure to book tickets in advance.
Address: Londres 247, Del Carmen Coyoacán
Museo Nacional de Antropologia
The incredible Museo Nacional de Antropología, National Museum of Anthropology, is home to the world’s largest collections of archaeological and anthropological artefacts from pre-Hispanic Mayan civilisations.
It’s one of the most important anthropology museums in Latin America and also the most visited museum in the country.
For kids, the National Anthropology Museum is a fascinating place 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 with displays showing their different traditional dress and costumes.
And finally, it’s worth visiting simply 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
Located in the heart of Chapultepec Park, this contemporary art museum was founded by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo in 1981. The artist donated his own works for the museum collection as well as a collection of international contemporary art.
It’s not a big museum (you can get around easily in 1-2 hours) but if you’re interested in 20th-century art then it’s well worth a visit.
The Rufino Tamayo Museum also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions of Mexican and international contemporary artists; Japanese polka dot queen Yayoi Kusama once held a large exhibition here.
Address: Av. Paseo de la Reforma 51, Polanco, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11580
Museo de Arte Moderno
Also within Chapultepec Park is the Museum of Modern Art that showcases contemporary art by international and Mexican artists.
The permanent collection includes works by Frida Kahlo, Olga Costa , Diego Rivera, Leonora Carrington, and Vicente Rojo Almazán among others.
It’s worth visiting the Modern Art Museum for the building alone, circular in shape, the building is topped by a giant dome which bathes the interior galleries in a soft, golden light.
Address: Paseo de la Reforma s/n, Col. Bosque de Chapultepec
Museo Interactivo de Economia (MIDE)
The Interactive Museum of Economics (Museo Interactive de Economia) may sound dry but it’s a fascinating museum and not just for adults, kids aged 10 and older will love it too.
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: Calle Tacuba 17, Centro Histórico
El Castillo de Chapultepec
One of the most interesting places – and one of my favorite museums – 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 didn’t spot them.
The castle itself has had something of a tumultuous history.
El Castillo was originally constructed in 1785 on the orders of Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, the commander-in-chief of ‘New Spain’, who fancied a manor house for himself. It was later abandoned during the Mexican War of Independence (1810 – 1821), and remained that way for several decades, until 1833 when it was turned into a military academy. 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.
Don’t miss the large mural dedicated to the Niños Héroes (“Young Heroes”) who died defending the castle during the Battle of Chapultepec of the Mexican-American War. In the middle of the painting is Juan Escutia, who, according to legend, wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and threw himself from the castle walls in order to prevent the flag falling into US hands.
During holiday periods, the castle holds workshops for kids.
Address: Section 1, Chapultepec Park
El Papalote, Museo del Niño
If you are visiting Mexico City with kids then El Papolote, the children’s museum, should be top of your list. This is a truly brilliant museum for children, the kind of innovative, hands-on place that you would expect to find in London or New York.
Not surprisingly, this is one of the best places to go with kids.
Kids can work at a supermarket or join an archaeological dig; create enormous bubbles or make an animated film; build a rocket ship or learn how our senses work. Everything is designed to entertain and educate 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
Museo del Juguete Antiguo México
One of the capital’s more unusual 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
Museo del Templo Mayor
Hands down one of the best museums in Mexico City is the Templo Mayor Museum. Located in the heart of the historic centre, the museum forms part of the Great Temple (El Templo Mayor) excavation. It’s one of the main stops on the turibus circuit.
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. This symbol now adorns the Mexican flag.
Incredibly, 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.
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 the more than 7,000 objects discovered in the ruins and is excellent.
Items on display include an enormous relief of Tlaltecuhtli, the Earth goddess of the Mexicas, that weighs almost 12 tons. It originally sat the foot of the main temple. Other items include funerary offerings such as musical instruments, knives and green stone masks.
One of my favourite pieces is a large ceramic sculpture of an Eagle Warrior. The Eagle Warriors were a special class of soldier in the Aztec army and the ruins of a former sanctuary for this elite breed of warrior can be visited on a trip from Mexico City to Malinalco.
Address: Seminario Núm. 8, Centro Histórico. When facing the Cathedral the Templo Mayor is to the right.
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. 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
Palacio Nacional (National Palace)
Standing to one side of El Zocalo in the historic center is El Palacio Nacional, the National Palace. It’s home to the offices of the Mexican President, the Federal Treasury and the National Archives, as well as the location for the best Diego Rivera murals in Mexico City.
The Palace was originally built by Hernán Cortés and the conquistadors when they destroyed the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, using the stones from Montezuma II’s palace to build his own. After Mexico gained independence in 1821, it was renamed the National Palace.
Altogether the National Palace has 14 courtyards although visitors are not allowed in all of them. The main draw is the Grand Courtyard in particularly the second floor where you will find the Diego Rivera murals.
These murals were painted between 1929 and 1935 and are some of his best works. The murals are divided into two sections: The History of Mexico on the grand staircase and a series of 11 panels on the second level of the pre-hispanic era.
The History of Mexico mural was commissioned by the Mexican government after the Mexican Revolution as a means to reunify the country under the then government. In addition to Rivera, the artists José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros were involved, and together the painters created murals throughout Mexico City and the surrounding areas.
Make sure to bring a government-issued photo ID when you visit. You will need to leave this at the entrance and pick it up again when you leave. The palace is open to visitors
The National Palace Mexico City is open to visitors from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday through Sunday and offers free admission.
Address: Plaza de la Constitución, Centro Histórico.
Museo Dolores Olmedo
Its worth visiting Dolores Olmedo Museum just to admire the pretty gardens. Located in the south of the city in Xochimilco, 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, art enthusiast and patron of Diego Rivera, and 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.
Address: Av. México 5843, Col. La Noria, Xochimilco.
Note: The Dolores Olmedo museum is temporarily closed and the collection is being moved to a new location in Chapultepec with an opening scheduled for sometime in 2023.
Covered in 16,000 aluminium hexagons, the Soumaya Museum shines brightly. This six-storey museum is home to Carlos Slim’s private art collection; a mind-boggling 66,000 pieces. Among the museum’s collection are works by Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
There’s almost an entire floor devoted to Auguste Rodin – this is the largest collection of works by Rodin in the world outside of France and the largest that is privately owned.
Address: Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Granada, Miguel Hidalgo
Standing next door to the Soumaya Museum is the Museo Jumex (Jumex Museum) is contemporary art space conceived by Eugenio Lopez, heir to the fruit juice empire Jumex, and opened to much fanfare in November 2013.
It’s a beautiful museum packed full of famous works by Mexican and International artists.
The white concrete cube with a sawtooth roof was designed by British architect David Chipperfield and named after the Lopez family’s fruit juice empire, Jumex (which stands for jugos mexicanos).
This is the largest private collection of contemporary art in Latin America, with over 2,600 permanent pieces as well as temporary exhibitions.
On display are works by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly in mediums including paintings, drawings and video installations. It’s a great place to visit for an art fix.
Address: Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, Granada, Amp Granada.
MUCHO Mundo Chocolate
Learn the origins of chocolate, its history and how its made at the MUCHO Mundo Chocolate museum. 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
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 1st December 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
Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky
Located in Coyoacan, not far from the former home of Frida Kahlo, is the Leon Trotsky Museum. This is where the exiled Russian revolutionary spent his final years before being assassinated by Ramón Mercader a Spanish Communist and NKVD secret agent under the orders of Moscow.
Much of the house is very much as it was when Trotsky lived there with books on shelves, his office and even his toothbrush still resting in its cup in the bathroom. It’s very text heavy in parts but a fascinating insight into the final years of the Russian revolutionary.
Address: Av. Río Churubusco 410, Del Carmen, Coyoacán
Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes
One of the most beautiful buildings in Mexico City is also one of its best museums.
Located in the heart of the historical center, the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bellas Artes Palace) is one of Mexico City’s most prominent arts venues. Bellas Artes hosts exhibitions and performances, including the twice-weekly performance by the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico.
In addition to being a beautiful building with some fantastic Art Deco architecture (look out for the stylised masks of the rain god, Tlaloc) there are several exhibition halls dedicated to arts and history.
Dominating some of the interiors walls are some incredible murals by some of Mexico’s best muralists: Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Roberto Montenegro and Jorge González Camarena.
Address: Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico
Museo Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso
The Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso started life as a Jesuit seminary before becoming Mexico’s first National Preparatory School in 1867, where many of the country’s intellectuals and artists – including Frida Kahlo – were educated. In the 1920s was the cradle of the Mexican muralist movement.
The school closed in 1978 and sat empty until 1992 when it was given a new lease of life as a museum and cultural centre.
It’s an impressive building but the real reason for coming here are to see the many excellent murals by artists such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others.
Address: Justo Sierra 16, Centro Histórico
Museo Memoria y Tolerancia
The Museum of Memory and Tolerance promotes Human Rights and the culture of peace. Yes, they are weighty topics but equally yes, the museum handles them well.
The museum tour starts with the theme of Memory exploring the Jewish holocaust followed by other genocides (Armenia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia and Guatemala) before moving on to the theme of Tolerance.
There’s also the Our Mexico room, which shows how diverse the country truly is, as well as the Great Humanist rooms and the Choose Your Attitude room.
Throughout the tour the museum explores themes of tolerance, respect, harmony, coexistence, and international focus for the good of humanity and the benefits of diversity. It’s thought-provoking, eye-opening and extremely well done.
Address: Avenida Juárez 8, Colonia Centro, Centro
9 thoughts on “21 of the best museums in Mexico City (+map)”
Oh my gosh. My kids would have SO much fun at these!!!
We’ll take them when you come to visit!!
Mexico City just keeps going higher up on my list of places to visit. The culture, the food, the people! Those museums look just incredible, and perfectly fun for kids and families too.
I look forward to showing you around!! 🙂
So looking forward to go to Mexico City, will be there in April 2017 with 2 children 12 & 9 yrs old. We will be staying at Hotel Geneve Ciudad in Zona Rosa. Do you have a driver that you can recommend to get to the pyramid?
Merry Xmas!! from Adelaide
It’s great to hear that you’re coming to Mexico City! Yes, I do have a driver that I can recommend. Please send me an email katja [a] globetotting.com. Thanks!
I am an expatriate I’m a chilanga, away from DF, too, too long, 43 years, can’t wait to retire and go back home. One never knows what one has, until it’s not there anymore. VIVA MEXICO
Viva Mexico indeed! We have loved living here. I hope you get to come home soon.
Can not wait to go back home
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