10 things to love about Mexico City’s Museo Dolores Olmedo

The tiles on the wall at the Museo Dolores Olmedo read: “By the example of my mother, professor Maria Patiño Suarez, widow of Olmedo, who always told me: ‘Share all you have with those around you.’ I leave this house with all my collections of art, the product of my life’s work, so the people of Mexico can enjoy it.” —Dolores Olmedo Patiño

Last year on a visit to Mexico City during the holidays, I spent a special day with friends exploring a few places I had never been before. Thanks to the abundance of cultural activities the city has to offer, there’s always something new to discover. I was thrilled to hear that the Museo Dolores Olmedo was on the itinerary they planned since I’m a big Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera fan.

Dolores Olmedo Patiño, also known to many as Doña Lola, was an aggressive collector and patron of the arts and is still revered today as one of the biggest individual benefactors and promoters of Mexican art and culture. At age 17, she met Diego Rivera by chance in an elevator at the Ministry of Public Education when he was still working on the murals there (that can still be seen today), and he ended up asking her to model for him. According to the museum, she modeled in nearly 30 nude sketches and then was the subject of other later paintings by Rivera. After separating from her husband, British journalist Howard Phillips (whom she married in 1935), the well-to-do single Olmedo made a career as a partner in a construction materials firm in the late 1940s. In the mid-1950s, she reconnected with Rivera and eventually became his benefactor, caretaker and eventually, executor of his estate and that of Frida Kahlo.

In the early 1960s Olmedo acquired Hacienda La Noria, a 16th-century Spanish colonial hacienda located in Xochimilco (a neighborhood in the south of Mexico City). At the time she acquired the property, it was a shell of its original state and so she set out on a mission to restore and preserve the hacienda. In the late 1980s, Olmedo announced plans to convert her hacienda into a museum, which opened in September 1994. Olmedo passed away in 2002 but her legacy still lives on in this charming museum she left behind for all to admire just as intended.

Here are my top ten reasons to visit the Museo Dolores Olmedo
the next time you’re in Mexico City… 

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Muralismo Mexicano: “El Pueblo a la Universidad y la Universidad al Pueblo”

A few years ago on a trip to Mexico City, I had the pleasure of working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) to document photos of the campus for a UNESCO project. If you’re not familiar with UNAM, the university is the oldest in the Americas (it was founded in 1551) and its main campus (Ciudad Universitaria) is recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. This is definitely a cool place to visit if you travel to Mexico City.

One of my favorite things about the campus is the amount of public art incorporated into both the buildings and open spaces. And I especially love the murals created by some of Mexico’s most famous artists.

During my visit, I got to spend some time up close to one of the murals that I’d only before ever seen in photographs—“El Pueblo a la Universidad y la Universidad al Pueblo” by David Alfaro Siqueiros on the side of the Torre de Rectoría…. 

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Wordless Wednesday: Fruta cristalizada

I’ve always been fascinated by frutas cristalizadas (candied fruits). I spotted these in the Mercado de Coyoacán a few weeks ago during my visit to Mexico City. Pictured clockwise from left: naranjas (oranges) that were hollowed out, tunas verdes y rojas (green and red prickly pears), chabacanos (apricots) and higos (figs). My favorite kind is calabaza cristalizada (candied pumpkin), and I brought back a big piece that I don’t plan to share.

  • What’s your favorite kind of fruta cristalizada?

Wordless Wednesday: Churros for dinner

During my trip to Mexico City a few weeks ago, there was one night that it got very chilly (and by very chilly in Mexico City in September, I mean about 57 degrees F). It doesn’t sound that cold—at least not to a Chicagoan used to blizzard weather—but without a jacket and the need for something warm in my belly, I wrapped myself in a fleece blanket while I chatted with my suegra and my cuñada about what we should have for dinner. After little discussion, we all agreed the best option was a trip to El Convento in San Ángel for churros and chocolate caliente. Pictured above is what ended up rolled in sugar and in my tummy. (Well, not ALL of it, but you get the idea.)

If you’re more than a few miles from the closest churrería, check out my recipe for making your own churros at home.

  • Where’s your favorite place to eat churros?

Wordless Wednesday: Estadio Olímpico Universitario

I snapped this photo of the Estadio Olímpico while zipping through C.U. (Ciudad Universitaria, the main campus of UNAM) on my last visit to Mexico City. The stadium opened in 1952 and was also used for the 1968 Olympic games. The mural on the outside of the stadium as pictured here, titled “La Universidad, la Familia y el Deporte en México,” was created by the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The stadium is one of our favorite places, especially because it’s the home of the Pumas—our favorite soccer team. Read more about the history of the stadium in Spanish on UNAM’s website.

  • Have you been to the Estadio Olímpico? What’s your favorite part about it?

¡Hoy es el cumpleaños de Frida Kahlo!

Today marks the 104th anniversary of the birthday of my favorite Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo!

If you’re not familiar with Frida’s life, work, or the famous Casa Azul, you can read more about them on the Museo Frida Kahlo website (in English). And if you’re ever visiting Mexico City, Casa Azul is one of the places you absolutely must visit.

It’s a magical place where you can feel her presence in just about every room and in the garden as well.

At the time I last visited Casa Azul, a stunning and thought-provoking private collection of photographs of Frida, Diego and their family and friends, entitled “Frida Kahlo: Sus Fotos,” was on display and many of the photographs were taken by Frida herself. It was an incredibly interesting glimpse into her life and how things looked from her point of view. You can read more about the photo exhibition, which ran through December 2010, on the museum’s website (in Spanish).… 

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