This is one of INAH’s five national museums, and the only one in Mexico with exhibits chosen not so much for their beauty or historical significance, but to showcase different lifestyles, values, customs and beliefs to help visitors understand the world’s cultural diversity. The collection is housed in a historic monument that dates back to 1570; the building was formerly the Casa de Moneda (Mexico’s national mint) at the heart of the country’s capital. In 1825, President Guadalupe Victoria, on the advice of Lucas Alemán, made arrangements for the site to be turned into the National Museum. Subsequently, Maximilian of Habsburg gave the instruction for the same building to be used to display artifacts and collections representing Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past and natural history. During the rule of Benito Juárez this construction was the Supreme Court of Justice and it has also been an archeological, ethnographic and historical research center.
The museum’s important collections provided the seed for other important Mexican museums, such as the Museum of Natural History in the Chopo building, the National Museum of History in Chapultepec Castle, and the National Museum of Anthropology. Established as the National Museum of Cultures in 1965, this magnificent building holds around 14,000 objects—such as textiles, glass, ceramic and porcelain figures; photographs, suits of armor, kimonos, masks, jewelry, weapons and Greek and Roman sculptures—from almost every country and representing different eras. As a result of Mexico’s international policy of cultivating relations with friendly nations, the various exhibits have been donated or loaned to the museum. Many of them are original and in some cases of very ancient provenance, while others are superbly crafted replicas.
This extraordinary collection is displayed in 16 galleries, designed to give a presence to the world’s different regions and respective themes, including the Pacific Rim countries of the Americas: Oceania and East and South-East Asia; Mediterranean cultures; the Middle East; Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China; Korea and Japan. Another completely renovated space is used for temporary exhibits of collections from the world’s leading museums. Oaxacan painter Rufino Tamayo’s “Revolución” mural (1938) is particularly impressive: it covers 80 square meters and frames the entrance to the Pedro Bosch Gimpera Library.
Delegación Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06060,
Ciudad de México, México.
On line 2 of the Mexico City Metro, the nearest station is Zócalo.
+52 (55) 5510 9922