Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and More: Visiting Mexico City’s House Museums
For the past two years, I’ve been making the short trek to Mexico City from New York City to look at its city-wide house museums—a tradition that dates back to when the Mexican president was a state governor. Located in historical areas of the city, these museum-houses are the only remaining homes of famous artists of the past. They are also a beautiful, historic place to visit.
There are two houses that have a big influence on modern culture. The National Museum of Anthropology in the north-east corner is the place to go to learn about pre-Hispanic cultures. Its permanent and temporary exhibits focus on the culture of the Mexica, the Aztec empire that ruled Mexico from 1520 to 1521.
The National Palace Museum in the south-west corner is a home to many of the most famous Mexican painters of the 20th century. In fact, the museum recently held an exhibit on Diego Rivera, Rivera’s final work being Guernica.
I was surprised to learn that most Mexican painters use a palette of colors that they haven’t before, but even more surprised to find out that Mexico City is a great city that’s also a great museum. I spent my first night in the city in one of those houses and got a taste of what visiting houses museums in Mexico City are like.
My first night in Mexico City, I rented a bike around the historic area of the city. Here are some of the highlights from my first day:
Historic Houses in the city
Mexico City’s street plan is different from that of many other places in the US. In a few spots around the city, you can get into the city’s historic districts by riding bike. For example, the areas around the old train station are packed with art galleries, cafes, and museums. I liked walking around those areas, because they were very interesting, but also because walking through the historic district of the city is often more pleasant than simply riding on a bike—you have time to really look around and enjoy it.
One of the reasons why I chose the house museums in the historic areas of Mexico City over the more touristy areas of the city was that at the house museums I could see how their owners lived and how they decorated their homes.