Unknown Things About the National Museum of Mexican Art

By Dickson Osas

The National Museum of Mexican Art is devoted to displaying and understanding artwork by Mexican and Mexican American artists. It first opened to the public in 1987.

The Carlos Cortéz archive completes the Museum’s collection of works of art, and its artist and exhibition files provide documentation of its operations and affiliated artists.

The data in this online resource was gathered through an in-person analysis of the materials and data provided by the curator. The Museum has organized more than 100 exhibitions since it opened in 1982 and added 7,500 works of art to its national gallery.

It is currently the only Latino Museum in the nation with American Association of Museums accreditation. The only significant Museum in Chicago that is open to the public for free is the National Museum of Mexican Art.

The Museum is one of the prestigious institutions presently available for humanity in the country. The Museum’s main objective is to keep promoting and maintaining the cultural heritage of the Mexican tradition, build a reputable place for the Mexican art collection, and encourage and contribute to the artists who deal with Mexican arts.

And finally, give adequate knowledge and information to lovers of arts and the general public.

The Museum remains the most critical place for arts in Chicago, which allows daily entry for the general public, with over one hundred sixty-five people visiting the fantastic site each year. The Museum received about $3.7m in grants between 1986 and 2019 from various organizations.

The Museum honors Mexican and Mexican-American art and is situated in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood, home to many Latinos. Despite being small, the Museum is a visual treat, filled with beautiful, vibrant pieces. Instead of having white museum walls, some exhibits have vibrantly colored backgrounds.

The Museum is the country’s first recognized Museum devoted to preserving and celebrating Mexican arts and culture.

The National Museum of Mexican Art annually hosts a Day of the Dead exhibition. The Da de Muertos exhibition, now in its 35th year, will feature installations, altars, paintings, and prints that honor the deceased in various innovative and more conventional ways. The National Museum of Mexican Art’s expanding permanent collection, which includes works by regional and cross-border artists, will also be shown in this exhibition.

Showcases from the Museum

Stories in English and Spanish that highlight the varied cultural traditions of Mexican art serve as the Museum’s tour guides. There have been Dia de Los Muertos exhibitions, exhibits of modern Mexican locales in Chicago, and other ad hoc displays.

The Ephemera collection has a dazzling mix of posters and other items honoring Mexican performances and art exhibitions, the Chicano Movement, and more.

The Pre-Cuauhtémoc displays showcase relics from a range of ancient cultures in Mexico, including Michoacan, Mayan, and Remojadacan, and feature works from before the passing of the last Aztec emperor, Cuauhtémoc. Additionally, the Museum has textiles, artwork, sculpture, photographs, folk art, drawings, and prints.

The image of the Virgin Mary dates back to 1531, when Mexican peasant Juan Diego was visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary in what is now Mexico City. She also acts as a link between the Aztec and Christian civilizations.

The classic picture of a dark-skinned Virgin Mary symbolizes the interaction between the Spanish and Mexico’s indigenous peoples. Tonantzin or Coatlicue, two Aztec deities also the mothers of demons, were comparable to the Virgin Mary for many indigenous Mexicans of the time.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is depicted in many of the Museum’s artworks (e.g., one amusing painting blends her image with the Mona Lisa). The best of the three paintings by Yolanda M. Lopez depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe as a young girl, a mother, and an older woman. The artist took inspiration from her mother, grandma, and herself.

A rainbow-winged angel sits at Mary’s feet in the mother painting while she sews on a sewing machine to fix her starry garment. It depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe wearing a uniform of some kind, her face weathered but gentle, radiating knowledge and worn-out elegance.

She is carrying a skinned snake, possibly evoking both Coatlalopeuh, a pre-Christian Meso-American fertility goddess linked with snakes, and the Christian iconography of the snake in the Garden of Eden.

In my opinion, the ability of a symbol to communicate to successive generations of people and elicit fresh interpretations is what gives it power. One of such pictures, the Virgin of Guadalupe, is repeatedly used yet never wholly loses its novelty.