Mexico City is home to some 150 museums (only Paris has more) ranging from the traditional to the downright quirky. Many of these museums are great for kids but where do you start when you have so many to choose from? With this list of course! The following are 12 great museums in Mexico City that are brilliant for kids.
1. Museo de Arte Popular
Located near to Bellas Artes is this museum dedicated to 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) parade when fantastical creatures are 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. Futura CDMX – Centro Interactivo
UPDATED! I first tried to visit Futura CDMX – Centro Interactivo (Future CDMX – Interactive Centre) in June but it had not yet opened to the public. We went today (December) and I can honestly say that this is one of my favourite museums in Mexico City. This is a large scale model of the City of Mexico that measures 234 square meters. Over 70 people were involved in creating this detailed model of the capital and no colonia has been left out. Your visit starts with an audiovisual show which tells a potted history of Mexico’s capital from the beginnings of Tenochtitlan to present day. It really is fantastic and a wonderful way to get an overview of one of the world’s largest cities.
The scale of the model is 1:2500 which means that each centimetre of the model represents 25 meters in real life. Once the presentation is finished (it takes approximately 15 minutes), you then have time to look at the model before heading up to the second floor and the multimedia installations. Here, there are interactive screens where you can compare demographics between Mexico City and other cities including Mumbai, New York City and Sydney. Categories include life expectancy, the number of cars per household, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, number of taxis and more. You can record yourself and appear on moving television screens and even make a wish for the capital by blowing into a machine and receiving a seed, which you can take home to plant. You can only visit on a tour, which start on the hour every hour (see opening times below). If you’re keen to beat the crowds, and enjoy a presentation in English, then I’d recommend turning up for the 9am showing. This really is an amazing museum – you must visit!
Address: Jose Mariano Jiménez 13, Cuauhtemoc, Centro
Open: 9am – 1pm Tuesday and Wednesday, 10am – 2pm Thursday, 10am – 4pm Friday – Sunday.
3. 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 and 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,
Open: Tuesdays – Sundays from 9am – 6pm (ticket office closes at 5.30pm).
4. 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 and has played the role of royal residence, military academy, presidential home and its current incarnation as Mexico’s National History Museum. It’s a very fun place to visit with kids; there’s lots of space to roam, some fantastic views over the city (particularly 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. And, during holiday periods, the castle holds workshops for kids. For more information, take a look at this post here.
Address: Section 1, Chapultepec Park
Open: 9am – 5pm, closed Mondays
5. 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. The museum has recently undergone a huge renovation and the finished product is excellent. 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
Open: 10am – 7pm daily, until 11pm Wednesdays
6. 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. But all the exhibits are historically important and interesting. 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
Open: 9am – 7pm, closed Mondays
7. 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), all manner of dolls, figures from the TV show He Man (you’ll find Castle Grayskull and She Ra on display, too!) 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
Open: 9am – 6pm Monday – Friday, until 4pm Saturday. 10am – 4pm Sunday
8. La Casa Azul
The most famous address in the southern neighbourhood of Coyoacán is Frida Kahlo’s childhood home, La Casa Azul. The house is filled with memories and personal items belonging to Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera, as well as 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 truly 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 children and they find both the house, and 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.
Address: Londres 247, Del Carmen Coyoacán
Open: 11am – 5.30pm Wednesdays, 10am – 5.30pm all other days except Monday when the museum is closed.
9. Universarium, Museo de las Ciencias
Located on UNAM’s main university campus in Coyoacán, in the south of Mexico City, is this 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
Open: Tuesday to Friday 9am to 6pm. Weekends and holidays 10am to 6pm.
10. 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 and 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. However, I have visited several times with my young children and they find it fascinating.
The accompanying museum, that showcases all the objects discovered in the ruins, 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.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00am to 5:00pm
11. 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 and surrounded by 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 and today 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.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 6pm
12. MUCHO Mundo Chocolate
My eldest doesn’t like chocolate but most other kids do so 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
Open: 11am – 5pm daily
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