The National Museum of Popular Cultures is one of the highlights of a trip to the Coyoacán Center. As it’s just down the Avenida Miguel Hidalgo, most visitors will arrive from the Plaza Hidalgo. Some guests may think it’s simply another crafts market, as there are nearly always a few vendors set up outside. But venture a bit further between the gates.
Dedicated entirely to Mexico’s popular cultures, the result is a museum of popular, indigenous, and urban works. Presentations cover works of visual art, music, theater, dance, literature, and food. The museum is part of the General Direction of Popular, Indigenous, and Urban Cultures under the Federal Secretary of Culture. The museum’s Facebook page does a good job presenting current goings-on at the museum. (Events change frequently).
History of the Museum Buildings
Today’s museum opened in 1982. It occupies several late 19th and early 20th century buildings. The most prominent of these is the former estate of Gumersindo Enriquez. During the 1920s and 30s, it was a private residence later converted to a boarding school, and then a convent. The Cristina Payán Hall and the EDUCAL Bookstore are in this building.
The Quinta Margarita lot was part of the Old Coyoacán Customs House. Originally part of the Church of San Juan Bautista, the land was nationalized in 1860. The house dates from the late 19th century and today houses the Maria Sabina Hall and the Quinta Margarita Galleries.
The Guillermo Bonfil Batalla hall is the work of architect Santiago de la Torre. This went up between 1982 and 1983 when the museum opened. A fourth building includes the offices of Educational Services. These are in a small house overlooking Moctezuma Street. The museum also counts three patios on the grounds: the Jacarandas Patio, the Moctezuma, and the Central Patio.
Finally, Mexico City’s National Museum of Popular Cultures is a must-stop in the Coyoacán Center.
As mentioned, it’s just a few minutes walk from the Hidalgo Plaza. A ten minute walk to the south, the museum is often visited on the same afternoon as a visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum.