One of my favorite things to do in Chicago is visit the National Museum of Mexican Art, although admittedly, I don’t get there as often as I’d like. In general, Chicago is a very good value when it comes to cultural museums; in addition to the Museum of Mexican Art there is the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, National Hellenic Museum, Chinese-American Museum of Chicago, and the DuSable Museum of African American History, just to name a few. Each time I have had the fortune of visiting the National Museum of Mexican Art, I have found it to be an excellent mix of historical and contemporary/ current installations.
On a past visit, the museum featured exhibits centered around El Dia de los Muertos or the day of the dead, as well as, the history of African descendants in Mexico which stretches back to the Spanish slave trade. During this current visit, the work displayed concentrated on the theme of a blended culture between Indigenous Americans and the Spanish, both by adoption and by force. It also focused on the endangered status of the American Dream for today’s urban Mexican immigrants and descendants.
I forgot to ask the staff how often the installations change, but my most recent visit seemed to have entirely different artwork from the last. The gift shop, however, was still a familiar experience featuring an awesome bevy a brightly colored figurines, wall hangings and shiny objects of bling. Overall, I’d say, the National Museum of Mexican Art is an excellent way to spend any afternoon soaking up art and culture.
Here’s three things that make the National Museum of Mexican Art a must:
- The Value. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday and is free for everyone everyday that it is open.
- The Parking. While most museums in Chicago are located downtown with outrageously expensive parking, this one is located in the Pilsen neighborhood about a mile away from downtown and the parking is easy and free.
- The Neighborhood. Although I really didn’t get a chance to hang this time, the museum is close to some of best Mexican restaurants and elote, churro and paleta vendors that you will find… anywhere.