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As it houses but one painting, the Diego Rivera Mural Museum is frequently overlooked in Mexico City’s enormous quantity of world-class museums. This one houses the mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central. Rivera painted it for the Hotel del Prado Misión in 1947. In the painting many of the most important figures from the history of Mexico share a space that compresses 400 years into but a moment.
The museum does display a few other works, usually from the 20th century and has exhibited photography, painting, graphics and sculpture. The museum also participates in research, development of exhibitions, and offers guided tours, lectures, workshops and recreational spaces.
The museum building was built in 1986 to exhibit the work previously part of the Hotel del Prado, which had been on what is currently the park in front of the museum. Severely damaged in the 1985 earthquake, the hotel was demolished, but for this one artwork. The mural had to be supported by a 15-ton weight, and the museum building was built around the mural.
The architect Carlos Obregón Santacilia asked Diego Rivera to create a mural for the Hotel del Prado’s Versalles dining room. The subject was to be the Alameda Central, just across the street from the hotel. The fresco of 4.70 x 15.6 m and was finished in 1947. It depicts more than 150 figures, including many of the most prominent figures from the history of Mexico. Among them are Hernán Cortés, Benito Juárez, Maximiliano de Habsburgo, Francisco I. Madero, and Porfirio Díaz. There are also people from multiple levels of society including street vendors and revolutionaries. Frida Kahlo makes an appearance as do some of Rivera’s other wives and his daughters. The Alameda Central provides the background for the entire epic mural.
It’s among the most accessible of Rivera’s murals in the city, and a visit can be combined with any number of a wealth of cultural and city attractions in the immediate vicinity of the museum.