Mexico City is an ideal place for museum lovers, since the city has 170 museums, making it the second city in the world with the most museums, only behind London. The Mexican capital has a great cultural offer, capable of satisfying the tastes of the most demanding visitors. From the National Museum of Anthropology to a museum from another galaxy, Mexico City invites you to know some of its best museums through the following list.
Table of Contents
Our Mexico Travel Guides:
- Fun Facts About Mexico City to Know Before You Go – By a Local Historian
- Special Things to do in Oaxaca + Fun Day Trips – Full Travel Guide
- Mexica vs. Aztec: What’s the Difference? (COMING SOON)
- Guide to Visiting the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City – Tips & Tricks (COMING SOON)
- Food in Oaxaca: Dishes and Drinks to Try on Your Next Oaxacan Adventures (COMING SOON)
Mexico City Museum Tours
Luis Carlos is a local historian and tour guide based in Mexico City (CDMX). He guided us through CDMX on his tour of the Anthropology Museum and his tour of the Historic Center. They were both major highlights of our time in Mexico City. We, at Dominican Abroad, cannot express enough how important it is to have the right guide to help contextualize your travels through Mexico City. And Carlos’ storytelling and detail of history are riveting and fun to learn through. That’s why we were excited to have him write this article sharing his insights and recommendations on the best museums to visit in Mexico City.
Best Museums in the Chapultepec Park Area
1. Chapultepec Castle
Located in the heart of Chapultepec Forest, Chapultepec Castle is considered the only castle in the American Continent. This imposing place was built in 1785 with the purpose of being the resting place of Viceroy Bernardo de Galvez, however, over time it has undergone several transformations, besides being the scene of many historical battles and relevant events in Mexican history.
During the first half of the 19th century, the castle was the military college of Mexico City, from 1864 it became the residence of Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota. After the fall of their government, the Castle became the vacation precinct of Mexico’s presidents and functioned in this way until 1939. From that year on the Castle became the National Museum of History.
2. National Anthropology Museum
The National Anthropology Museum is the largest museum in Mexico City and also one of the most famous. Inaugurated in September of 1964, the museum houses 22 rooms that will take us to know the history of some of the most famous pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico, the most famous are the Mexica room, the Mayan room, the Teotihuacan room, and the Olmec room.
Throughout the museum, we will find various items that are special in the museum’s collection, since their rarity and importance make them very popular among visitors, among these objects are the Penacho de Moctezuma, the colossal Olmec heads, the Aztec Calendar, the tomb of the Mayan ruler Pakal, the sculpture of the Goddess Coatlicue among many other objects. The museum also has a restaurant where you can try some real Mexican dishes. Without a doubt, the National Museum of Anthropology is a must-see destination in Mexico City.
Arguably, the best museum in Mexico City and our top favorite!
3. Soumaya Museum
Located in the exclusive neighborhood of Polanco and a few minutes from Chapultepec Forest, the Soumaya Museum building is impressive at first sight, its facade is made up of more than 16 thousand aluminum hexagons undoubtedly makes this museum a unique place in the city. This place was designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero with the advice of renowned architect Frank Gehry. Inside this precinct we can find more than 60 thousand pieces of art of the Carlos Slim Foundation. Throughout its 6 levels we can approach a little more than 3 centuries of American and European art, also in this museum is the last mural that Diego Rivera made.
4. Jumex Museum
The Jumex Museum is located in the Polanco neighborhood and opened its doors in 2013 to become one of the cultural references of contemporary art in Mexico City. Through its exhibitions, the museum seeks to bring visitors closer to the innovations in art that are presented in our days, one of the most important exhibitions that the museum has had was in 2017, when the halls of the museum hosted a temporary exhibition of the artist Andy Warhol, it was undoubtedly one of the best exhibitions that the museum has brought to the Mexican capital.
5. Luis Barragán House and Studio
Without a doubt, the Luis Barragan House-Studio is an architectural jewel of Mexico City. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004, this place is a set of emotions that are expressed through its geometric shapes, the play of colors, the different materials used, but above all the importance of light and shadows make this space a unique place. The architect Luis Barragan is considered the father of modern architecture in Mexico, and there is no doubt about it when you walk through the corridors of his house, the way in which its structural elements play with each other, make this place a harmonious space.
We suggest you buy your tickets in advance.
6. Modern Art Museum
Located in the Chapultepec Forest and founded in 1964, the Museum of Modern Art was at the time a symbol of the modernization of the country’s capital. The lobby of the museum is characterized by its organic dome that illuminates it, and it was planned to respond to the landscape and surroundings.The museum has 4 exhibition halls, a gallery, a cafeteria and large gardens where visitors can admire some modern style sculptures. Undoubtedly one of the most famous pieces exhibited in this museum is “The two Fridas”, one of the most important works of Frida Kahlo’s career and that consolidated her as an artist.
7. Rufino Tamayo Museum
Inaugurated in 1981, the Museo Rufino Tamayo has sought to share the avant-garde of national and international modern and contemporary art among the Mexican population. The museum houses more than 850 works of art by different authors, all of them collected by the couple Olga and Rufino Tamayo. The couple’s purpose was always to give the people of Mexico the opportunity to learn about the foreign art style that emerged at the end of World War II. The museum is located inside the Chapultepec Forest and a few steps from the Museum of Anthropology, making it a museum with one of the most privileged positions in Mexico City.
Editor’s Bonus: I really like the cute gift shop. They have a lot of art by artists from around Mexico for sale.
Downtown Mexico City Museums (Historic Center)
8. The Palacio de Bellas Artes Museum
The Palacio de Bellas Artes Museum is an incredible building conceived with an Art Nouveau style in its exterior façade but with an Art Deco style in its interior. The building began its construction in 1904 under the government of Porfirio Diaz, but was not finished until 1934. The original idea was that this building would become the new National Theater of the country, however, with time it also became one of the most popular museums in the country. Inside the museum we can find 17 murals of the most important muralists of Mexico: Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco.
9. Diego Rivera Mural Museum
Even though the Diego Rivera Mural Museum may be one of the smallest in the city, it keeps in its walls one of the most important murals of Diego Rivera. Here we find the mural “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Central Alameda”, a mural that narrates 400 years of Mexican history, history that will be illustrated through multiple historical characters. But undoubtedly the character that makes this mural unique is the character of “La Catrina”, this unique character has become a reference of Mexican culture, as La Catrina is the bridge between life and death, without a doubt this character stands out above all others.
10. National Art Museum
Located on Tacuba Street, the National Art Museum of Mexico City has the function of preserving and exhibiting works of art made in Mexico from the XVI Century to the first half of the XX Century. The museum is considered one of the most important architectural works of the last century. Undoubtedly this precinct is perfect to understand a little more of Mexican art. Some of the artists exhibited in this museum are David Alfaro Siqueiros, José María Velasco, Diego Rivera, Gerardo Murillo (Dr. Atl), among many others.
11. Kaluz Museum
Located just a few steps away from the Alameda Park, the Kaluz Museum is one of the newest museums in Mexico City. Located in an old 18th-century palace, the Kaluz Museum houses an impressive collection of Mexican art. The collection of the Kaluz Museum includes more than 1000 works of art from the period from the 18th to the 21st century, some of the artists we can find are Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Gerardo Murillo “Dr. Atl” and Rufino Tamayo. But the museum is not the only thing housed in its building, on the terrace of the museum there is a small cafeteria with an incredible view of Mexico City.
12. Old College of San Ildefonso
The Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso is undoubtedly one of the most important cultural spaces in Mexico City. This building is an architectural jewel of the city, its construction dates back to 1588 and was built to be a Jesuit seminary. Over the years this school had different uses but always focused on public education. However, this place is also the cradle of the Mexican muralist movement, on its walls are murals of the most important artists: Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco.
13. National Museum of San Carlos
Museo Nacional de San Carlos is located in an old 18th-century neoclassical style building designed by architect Manuel Tolsá. But its history as a museum begins in 1968, when it was decided to expose the art galleries of the Old Academy of San Carlos, these galleries preserved art from the fourteenth century to the early twentieth century. The European style of the works found within its walls make this place the perfect setting to conceive a different vision of the old European continent.
14. Memory and Tolerance Museum
Museo Memoria y Tolerancia opened its doors in 2010 and since then has sought to raise awareness of the many problems we have, not only in Mexico but worldwide. This museum seeks to disseminate “Tolerance, non-violence and historical memory”. One of the most moving rooms of this place is the Holocaust room, through this room we will be shown a little of the horrors committed by the Germans during World War II, in the museum is one of the original train cars that were used to transport prisoners to the concentration camps. Undoubtedly this museum is a place to reflect and learn about the cruelty of human nature.
15. Museum Foro Valparaíso
The Museum Foro Valparaíso is one of the new cultural offerings in Mexico City. Located in the heart of the historic center, this 17th century building was the residence of the Counts of San Mateo Valparaíso. Throughout its 14 rooms the museum offers visitors the opportunity to meet various Mexican artists such as: Remedios Varo, Frida Kahlo, Jose Maria Velasco, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Leonora Carrington, among many others. In addition, the architecture of the building makes the experience something unique, without a doubt the Foro Valparaiso is an interesting option to visit.
16. Templo Mayor Museum
A remodeling project in 1978 brought to light the remains of the ancient Templo Mayor of the ancient city of Tenochtitlán (the original name of Mexico City). The Templo Mayor Museum exhibits the pieces discovered underneath the area of the Historic Center of the City, artifacts that show us what life was like for the ancient Mexicas who resided in this area, how his gods look or the rituals for them. But the Museum not only exhibits ancient articles, it also invites us to walk through the archaeological zone of the Templo Mayor, the visitor will be able to travel back in time and imagine that he or she lived in the same era as the Mexicas. This museum is a must-see in Mexico City.
17. Museum of the Bank of Mexico
Have you ever imagined what the inside of a bank vault looks like? Well, in this place you will be able to visit a real vault. Museo Banco de Mexico opened its doors a few months ago and has become one of the most famous museums in the Historic Center of Mexico City. Inside we can find 120 thousand numismatic pieces, all of them used in different periods of Mexico’s history, but the museum also has an original coin from the times of the emperor Alejandro Magno. The visitor also can admire an incredible digital “stained glass”, unique in its style that is undoubtedly an incredible attraction of the place.
18. Museum of Popular Art
Museo de Arte Popular is located in an incredible art deco style building a few steps from the Alameda Central and its collection reaches 3000 pieces of Mexican popular art. Among the pieces that the museum houses are typical masks, antique toys, papier-mâché figures, gold and silver work and some metals, making this museum a mix of Mexican art unique in its style. But this museum offers cultural activities for everyone, such as an alebrijes workshop, puppet shows, and documentary screenings. If you visit the museum, don’t forget to stop by the gift store, with your purchase you support Mexican artists.
19. The Secretary of Public Education Site Museum
Located a few blocks away from the Templo Mayor is the Museo de Sitio de la Secretaría de Educación Pública which houses some of Diego Rivera’s most incredible murals. The history of this building dates back to pre-Hispanic times, since in the lands where this museum is located the Mexica built the Calmecac, a building where the indigenous nobility was educated. When the Spaniards arrived, they decided to build a Catholic convent which used stones from the old Indian school for its walls. That is why in this museum you can find archaeological windows to see the ruins of the pre-Hispanic building, artifacts of the religious order that inhabited it, and murals of the twentieth century, certainly a place worth visiting on your visit to Mexico City.
20. The Estanquillo Museum
Created in 2006, the Museo del Estanquillo protects the private collection of Mexican writer Carlos Monsivais, consisting of more than 10,000 pieces of everyday Mexican life, with this kind of artifacts the visitors will be able to understand the day life of the people from Mexico city. The word “estanquillo” comes from the 19th century and refers to the small stores in the Mexican capital where you could find any kind of everyday artifacts. On the fourth level of the museum, visitors can meet with the writer Monsivais, since this level houses the writer’s office and is where his ashes lie in a cat-shaped urn. The museum also has a cafeteria on the roof of the building, which allows visitors to enjoy an incredible view of the Historic Center.
21. National Museum of World Cultures
The history of the building that houses Museo Nacional de las Culturas, located in the Historic Center of Mexico City, is one of the most important, since in its walls were forged the ideas of some of the most famous national museums. This museum is also important because of the historic building that houses it, in this place was the Casa Denegrida, where Emperor Montezuma used to dialogue with the Mexica gods asking for advice. Through its halls, the museum takes the visitor by the hand to know some of the most important ancient and contemporary cultures of the world. Some of the most impressive pieces in the museum are Egyptian deities, Chinese terracotta warriors, Mesopotamian tablets, pre-Hispanic pieces and even Roman pottery.
22. The Pulque Museum
This unconventional museum preserves the history of one of Mexico’s most famous beverages: pulque. The Museo del Pulque y las Pulquerías tells the story of the creation process of the so-called “drink of the gods”, a nickname given by the ancient Mesoamerican cultures, and has a didactic tour that will help you understand a little more about the fermentation process that this drink undergoes and that gives it its unique flavor and consistency. And as if that were not enough, on the first floor of the museum you will be able to taste some authentic Mexican pulque! You can choose between the natural flavor a little sour or try the different fruit flavors that the pulqueria can offer you.
23. National Museum of the Mexican Revolution
Underneath the Monument to the Revolution is the National Museum of the Revolution, which was inaugurated in 1986, this is a place that houses a collection of more than 3,000 items related to the armed struggle that Mexico experienced at the end of 1910. Documents, rifles, costumes and charro hats are the items on display in the museum but also videos about the civil war that México suffered. However, the best part of the museum is being able to climb to the 216 feet high observation deck, where you can enjoy an unparalleled view of this area of Mexico City.
Museums in Coyoacán Area of Mexico City
24. Frida Kahlo Museum
The Frida Kahlo Museum, better known as Frida Kahlo’s Blue House, is without a doubt one of the most popular places in Mexico City, receiving approximately half a million visitors annually. The house is divided into 3 sections, the family house, the garden and the gallery with Frida Kahlo’s dresses.
Inside the museum we will be able to see some of the artist’s most emotionally charged works, including Frida Kahlo’s first painting: “Self-Portrait in a Purple Velvet Suit”, 1926. If this is not enough, we will also be able to admire Frida Kahlo’s last work: “Viva la vida” 1954, which was completed eight days before the artist’s death. In addition to this you will be able to see the artist face to face (in a creepy way) since the urn with Frida Kahlo’s ashes are also in the museum.
We suggest you buy your tickets in advance as they sell out very quickly.
25. The National Watercolor Museum (Museo Nacional de la Acuarela)
Located in the neighborhood of Coyoacán, the National Watercolor Museum opened its doors in 1967 and became one of the first museums of this genre of art. Throughout its 6 rooms, the visitor will be able to travel through the colors to different periods of history, starting with some vestiges of pre-Hispanic painting on deerskin, to modern examples of watercolor in our days. The museum’s collection comes from the painter Alfredo Guati Rojo, who intended to preserve and disseminate the art made from watercolor, an act he has succeeded in accomplishing through this museum. Also on weekends, the museum offers different workshops for all the visitors so you can experiment with the magic of the watercolors.
26. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo House Studio Museum
Built in 1931 by architect Juan O’Gorman, the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo House-Studio Museum is considered one of the first functionalist structures in Latin America. This place was inhabited by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera from 1934 until Diego’s death in 1957. In this place the artists created most of their artistic catalog, being this place the scenario where Frida Kahlo consolidated herself as an artist. This property is characterized by two separate buildings, each a separate residence for the artists, but connected by a bridge that symbolized their love. Here we can find the collection of pre-Hispanic figures and sketches of Diego Rivera’s murals, as well as other personal objects that belonged to the Mexican artist.
Other Museums Around the City
27. Museo Estelar
Can you imagine a museum dedicated to Star Wars? Well, here it is, the Museo Estelar is a private museum south of Mexico City that houses an incredible collection of items related to this mythical movie saga. The collection of this museum is the largest in Latin America and consists of more than 6000 artifacts. Throughout its corridors, you can find original toys from the 70s, some exclusive pieces of conventions, including original items used in the movies like some parts of the hair of Chewbacca or some lightsabers of the Jedi knights. Without a doubt, this museum is a must-see for any Star Wars fan, and the best of all, it’s a free museum, the only thing that you need to do is book the schedule on their official page.
28. The Museum of the Purpose of the Object
Inaugurated in 2010, the Museum of the Purpose of the Object seeks to tell different stories through the almost 140,000 objects in its collection. These objects are items of everyday Mexican life, some of them are more than 200 years old, and yet all of them hide some story or secret. The building where the museum is located dates from 1906 and is a clear example of Art Nouveau, predominant in the Roma neighborhood. The MODO is a very different museum from what we are used to seeing, and yet it is one of the best museums in Mexico City.
About the Author: Luis Carlos
Hi there! My name is Luis Carlos but everyone calls me Carlos. I am a history student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I spend most of my time giving history tours around the museums of Mexico City, my favorite place in the city is the Chapultepec Castle because from there you can see a different face of the city. I’m a fan of cats but ironically I adopted a dog named Lucky. I love science fiction movies and good conversations. My favorite food is enchiladas and my biggest dream is to continue building my tourism business and for the opportunity to travel the world.