The Soumaya Museum in Mexico

Located at 303 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra St., within the Ampliación Granada neighborhood, we can find the beautiful Museo Soumaya de Plaza Carso built as a modern, asymmetric building which stands out due to its structure. It was designed by architect-designer Fernando Romero with the idea of promoting culture by introducing the public to the personal art collections of Carlos and Soumaya Slim.

The museum is located in 17,000 square meters of space and has six levels (without including the lobby) in an area of 6000 square meters. The exterior of the building stands out through the 16,000 incorporated hexagons. Inside the building we can find a public phone booth, an auditorium for 300 people, a Sanborn’s Café and other restaurants. There is also a library with more than 3000 volumes. Intermediate levels are connected by ramps that allow the ascent/descent of the elderly and disabled. It has elevators, which tend to saturate with the presence of groups. The height of each level varies from four to thirteen meters.

About the collections:

The rooms exhibit the following “themes”:

1. Viceroyal, Republican and Second Empire’s coin exhibition

2. Mexican portrait of the XIX century and applied arts;

3. Ancient European and modern Spanish teachers

4. XIX century Mexican and European scenery; impressionism and first vanguards;

5. Western Mesoamerican cultures; XX century Mexican art;

6. The Rodin era; XIX and XX century European sculptures.

The first room shows an exhibition of medals, bills and coins. These range from the XVI century to the XX. Inside the second room, we will find pieces of the three items of the Mexican portrait: of the San Carlos academy the popular and regional one. There are magnificent works of Hermenegildo Bustos, Juan Cordero, Pelegrin Clave and Roque, among others. In the area of applied arts we will find various artifacts and decorated utensils used in the XVIII, XIX and XX centuries, although there are pieces that date back 2000 years. Said collection includes spoons, furniture, screens, watches and much more.

In the third room there are basically several oil paintings of Juan Correa, Miguel Cabrera, José de Páez and other paint masters of the viceroyalty. Many of these paintings are not only admired for the painting itself, but the frame is also beautiful for it has inlaid mother-of-pearl or tortoise shell. The religious art is the most exhibited here. In the European masters section we will find many works that need no presentation: Tintoretto, Murillo, el Greco, Rubens and many others exhibit here. There are works for all tastes, from the Neoclassical or the Baroque to the Mannerism and Expressionism.

At the fourth room we will find works related to landscaping; there is a lot of marine artwork and XVIII and XIX century paintings referring to the Mexico of that era. There are some very beautiful decorated screens and an artwork that attracts attention: The representation of the City of Celaya made with rice paper, to extraordinary detail. The fifth room, located in the last level exhibits Mesoamerican art and has figurines, braziers, censers, vases and skulls with epigraphs. It is accompanied by a documentary graph made by Luciano Castañeda.

Guidelines to the museum:

The entrance to the museum is completely free for ALL the public. Guided tours for a group (minimum seven people are available for $10.00 dlls. per group, by calling to Ph. 5616-3731, (x-309). The museum is open from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm. Nevertheless, due to the extent of the rooms, it is recommended to arrive with enough time to appreciate the whole exhibit, or visit it on different occasions. We recommend that you bring nothing with you that may be considered a threat to the collection, such as cutters, knives, paint or solvents for there is a security checkpoint at the entrance since most of the pieces are exposed without protection, with the exception of a line of stars indicating the minimum distance to see the artwork and the security personnel which are always there to check that boundaries are respected.

The Soumaya-Plaza Carso Museum has a store, where books, educational games, cards, puzzles and many other things are sold. There are also diverse cultural workshops in its interior. In itself, the Soumaya Museum is a great new space for culture; if you are an art connoisseur, you will spend hours discovering the symbolism in the paintings, and if you like art, only because is art, ¡you will enjoy an unforgettable day!

Article produced by the Editorial Team of "Explorando Mexico".

Copyright Explorando México, All rights reserved.

Photo: Gabriel A Ramírez