One of the great things about Mexico City is that many of the museums we visited had free admission, making them accessible to everyone. Museo Soumaya, one of Mexico City’s newest museums, is no exception. Unlike many of the museums around the city though, it’s not dedicated a specific theme. Instead, most of what’s on display here is the collection of Mexico’s richest man and CEO of Telmex, Carlos Slim. He funded construction of the massive museum building and provided his private collections for display, naming the museum after his late wife (Soumaya).
The works on display are diverse. While there are a total of six floors, we only explored the first two. The ground floor was dedicated to sculptures and murals, including a bronze cast of “The Gates of Hell”, a massive and incredibly detailed work by Auguste Rodin. Here’s one tiny part of it:
Here’s another of runners, racing toward the finish line:
The first floor was dedicated to Mexican and Hispanic art and artifacts, including religious works and early coinage from the Mexican republic. One intersting highlight was an entire cabinet-full of hearts of Jesus and the Virgin Mary:
The second floor was dedicated to Asian ivory carvings, consisting of work from China, India, and Japan. There were pieces carved directly into tusks, like the one below:
There were also smaller pieces, including this one of Guan Yin:
Overall, we thought Museo Soumaya was a fantastic way to spend a day looking at religious and cultural works. While researching the museum online I came across a lot of criticism for both the art collection and the project, one of which was that Slim spent millions on this museum while most Mexicans make a fraction of this. But art and culture aren’t the sole privilege of the developed world. Just like a free museum, like the Soumaya, it’s something for everyone to enjoy.