National Museum of Art – D.F.

The National Museum of Art of Mexico City was founded in 1982 under the name National Museum of Painting, and in 2000, reopened its doors as the MUNAL after an intense process of remodeling and technological updating and museum in the manner of the great galleries of the world.

Currently, exhibits, studies and disseminates the Mexican and international art between the sixteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century providing new experiences for the understanding and aesthetic enjoyment of their collections and exhibitions to the public.

The museum collection consists of over 3000 pieces and has an exhibition area of approximately 60,000 square feet (5500 m2).

The National Art Museum is an institution under the National Institute of Fine Arts and there are programs for conservation, exhibition, dissemination and study about the artistic heritage of Mexican art.

The museum also offers public programs and exhibitions. This work contributes to the educational, cultural and popular culture, through workshops, symposiums and publications, among many others.

Finally, the National Museum of Art, establishes links with different sectors through programs such as Volunteers and Friends of the National Museum of Art, opens its doors to cultural events and about their contents to the community through the Web and exhibitions.

The Building

The National Art Museum is located in the historic heart of Mexico City, in the old Palace of Communications building designed by Italian architect Silvio Contri.

In 1901, the government of Porfirio Díaz established the headquarters building of the Ministry of Communications and Public Works with the intent of generating an architectural symbol of the country’s progress. The place designated for its construction, was occupied by St. Andrew hospitals and Gonzalez Echeverria.

On June 11, 1902, the Mexican government hired Contri and by 1904, started the construction work. The current architecture of choice for Silvio Contri, was the characteristic eclecticism of the nineteenth century, involving shapes and styles of the past. This power was consolidated under the name of modernism because of its symbolic meaning and use of new technologies of the era that made use of the decoration as a sign of wealth and employment of the technique of metal structures that symbolized the progress of a society industrializing. The decoration of the building, was in charge of the house’s artistic Coppedé Florentine family, who designed the handles, the beveled glass, the glass windows, the carved stone, furniture, lamps and blacksmithing, among many other items between most notably the works of the Reception Room and Patio sculptures of lions. The beauty and versatility of the building allowed its later use as the National Archives and then as the National Art Museum, from 1982.

Today the building is located in the Plaza Manuel Tolsa, which takes its name from the author of the famous statue of Charles IV, known as The Horse. Other important properties complement its reference as the Palaces of Mines, Posts and Fine Arts. In 1997, the National Council for Culture and the Arts and the Board of the National Museum of Art, began the project Munal 2000, in which the former Palace of Communications would be renovated architectural sticking to the original project. The building is technologically adapted to give works of art, a suitable environment in areas such as control of temperature, humidity, lighting, storage and availability of exhibition spaces that facilitate working with the tenets of contemporary museology.

Reception Hall

Located on the second floor of the palace and evokes the splendor of European salons. It was decorated with extraordinary pieces of jewelry, glassware and paintings which stand allegorical murals dedicated to Science, Art, Freedom, History and Work, as a visual discourse that leads the viewer to a central allegory dedicated to Progress . This central allegory is divided into four themes that allude to the Force, Justice, Wisdom and Wealth. The Reception Hall, is named to the preference of President Porfirio Diaz to perform official acts in this room in honor of distinguished visitors.


Like the entire building, the playground combines the eclectic architecture, consisting of a fusion of classical and Gothic style with beautiful accents through sculptures, lamps and ornaments carved in multiple quarry. The symmetry of space is interrupted by integration of the stairs of the building in a semicircular protruding. Thus, the visitor does a spectacular view of the environment. Currently, the museum opens this space to enjoy concerts, book fairs and present various kinds of cultural activities.


Currently, exhibits, studies and disseminates the Mexican and international art from the sixteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.

The National Museum of Art well known collections are:

The Historical Tour – Art presents an overview of Mexican art history between the sixteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. The exhibition is organized in three thematic groups covering momentous periods in the evolution of visual arts in Mexico.

1550 – 1821 West Assimilation
Check the first manifestations of the art of Western painting in America and the birth of the Academy of San Carlos.

1810-1910 Building a Nation
It outlines the thinking of the new Mexican State and the way in which artists sought to give an identity to the country through art.

1910-1955 Strategies for a Modern Mexico
Exhibits significant works of the period from the Mexican Revolution to the consolidation of the Muralist movement.

Visitor information

The National Museum of Art, MUNAL collects, preserves, exhibits, interprets, and communicates Mexican art produced between the sixteenth and the first half of the twentieth century.

It is located on Tacuba Street 8, in the Historic Center of Mexico City, opposite the Palace of Mining, Underground stations between Allende and Bellas Artes.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and is closed on December 25 and January 1

Prices: General Admission $ 37.00 Mxn. Students, teachers, members of INAPAM, ICOM and SEPAL enjoy free admission with valid ID. Sundays are a free entrance for all.

$ 5.00 Mxn is required for a photography permit, film is available for $ 30.00 Mxn

Directions: By public transport the nearest stations are Bellas Artes (line 2 and line 9) and Allende (line 2).

The nearest public parking is Palace of Fine Arts, Street Donceles Lopez.

Free guided tours (with paid museum admission) are available to the general public, Tuesday through Friday by reservation, weekends Noon to 2:00 p.m. The museum also offer free tours to educational institutions when booked two weeks in advance. Call cel: +52 (55) 5130 3460. Switch: +52 (55) 5130 3400 and via email ato

Reference Books and business recovery require a donation. Please inquire at entrance.
Information and reservations phone: +52 (55) 5130 3491 and +52 (55) 5130 3496.

Audio guides: Service in a bilingual audio guide with information about the architecture of the museum.

Infrastructure: Information center, cloakroom, educational spaces, auditorium, library, shop, cafe, loan of wheelchairs and strollers in the cloakroom, lifts for wheelchairs, ramps for the disabled.

The National Museum of Art, El Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL) is part of the Instituto Nacional de Bella Artes.

The main aims of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) are the diffusion and promotion of the Arts (Museums, Opera, Music, Dance, and Literature), the artistic education and research, as well as the safeguarding and conservation of the movable and immovable artistic heritage. As such they encompass the Institute of Scenic Arts, the National Company of Dance, National Symphony Orchestra, Bella Artes Orchestra of Camara, National Opera Company, National Theater Company, National Museum of Art, Palace of Fine Arts Museum, National Museum of San Carlos, Museum and Studio of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Museum of Modern Art, Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art, and others.

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About G. William Hood

G. William Hood is a writer, fine arts painter, educator and world traveler. He lives in Cuernavaca with his pet cockatiel, Pepe.
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