One thing I loved most about staying at the Domingo Santo Hotel Boutique was its Centro Histórico location and proximity to so many beautiful landmarks. The entire historic downtown felt like a massive museum in and of itself. The only time we left this area was to visit Xochimilco and Frida Kahlo’s house— everything else was within walking distance from the hotel. Mexico City has more than 150 museums!! Since our time was limited, here are a few we had time to see (or at least stop by briefly to take a few photos).
Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Popular Art)
This colorful folk art museum is full of rich history, exquisite handicrafts, and contemporary pieces. Housed in a beautiful art deco building that used to be a fire department headquarters, the museum showcases the incredible diversity and culture of Mexico. We spent about an hour exploring the exhibits and then stopped for lunch at a torteria next door.
Museo Memoria y Tolerancia (Memory and Tolerance Museum)
Holden and I both named this museum as our favorite part of the trip (which may seem like an odd adjective given the subject matter). It is a harrowing, breathtaking tour of the most horrific crimes against humanity. The exhibits were only in Spanish, so we paid for the English audio guide– it was well worth it.
The museum is divided into two sections: Memory and Tolerance. The memory section focuses on extreme cases of genocide, with a large portion dedicated to the Holocaust. It also shed light on less familiar atrocities that occurred/are occurring in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere. There was so much more information than I’ve ever learned in history classes or the media. The interactive presentation was incredibly moving and made it impossible to turn a blind eye to the horrors.
The Tolerance section of the museum addresses issues such as mass media, discrimination, human rights, and diversity vs. inclusion. Everything hit a little too close to home, especially seeing a recording of Donald Trump’s hateful comments about the people of Mexico. It was terrifying to reflect on how these unspeakable periods of history came to be, and realize how much history is mirrored in today’s political climate here.
I believe everyone needs to experience the Memory and Tolerance Museum, or something like it. If you only have time for one museum during your trip, please make it this one.
Museo del Templo Mayor (Templo Mayor Museum)
We didn’t make it to Teotihuacan to see the Pyramid of the Sun during our trip, but we were able to get a Mesoamerican fix at the Templo Mayor, where it is believed the Aztecs saw the symbolic eagle perching on a cactus with a snake in its beak (as depicted on the Mexican flag). Templo Mayor is located near the Zocalo, and we had a great view of it from our lunch on the balcony of La Casa de Las Sirenas.
Museo Archivo de la Fotografía (Museum of Photography)
Right across the sidewalk from Templo Mayor is this free photography museum. It houses a photographic collection of more than two million images. It is a great way to see the history and transformation of the city through pictures.
Museo Nacional de Arte – MUNAL (National Museum of Art)
This was one museum that had been on my list, but we ran out of time. It is located in the old Palace of Communications Mexican and is filled with international art from the 16th century to the 20th century. MUNAL will definitely be on the itinerary next time we visit CDMX.
Palacio de la Inquisición/Museo de la Medicina Mexicana
This was a very interesting building. The Palace of the Inquisition was right across the square from our hotel, so we stopped inside briefly before it closed one day. Admission was free, but one of us had to leave a form of ID while we were inside. Historically, it was the headquarters for the Spanish Inquisition and a place of torture and imprisonment. Today, it’s a School and Museum of Medicine. We took a peek at some of the exhibits and couldn’t quite stomach the artifacts. Nevertheless, it was fascinating and a pretty backdrop for photos!
Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)
Palacio de Bellas Artes is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. It hosts art exhibitions and live theater, dance, music, and opera events. We didn’t go inside, but got incredible views from the top of the Sears building across the street. Next time, I’d love to attend a show there.
Palacio de Correos de México/Palacio Postal (Main Post Office)
This majestic post office is right around the corner from Palacio de Bellas Artes. We walked by it several times before realizing what was inside. It’s still an operational post office on the first floor and also has a small museum inside. We just stayed long enough to take a few photos and soak in the sight of its incredible staircase.