There are few better ways to experience a culture than through its art, and there are few cultures more integral to the United States than the Latino community. If you find yourself in Chicago with the hopes of having a fulfilling day of learning more about the Mexican and Latino culture, visit the National Museum of Mexican Art. The largest Latino arts institution in the United States, the museum includes both traditional and contemporary art produced by Native Mexican and/or Mexican-American artists.
You can immerse yourself in the vibrant and rich Mexican art and culture right in the heart of the Windy City. Over 3,000 years of creativity from both sides of the border is constantly on full display. Walking around this 48,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility you will feel a deep and personal connection with Mexican culture. The museum is in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, where the city’s Mexican community thrives.
The roots of the museum date back to 1982, when Carlos Tortolero organized a group of like-minded educators and founded the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum. Its’ doors opened five years later. The mission was to establish an arts and cultural organization committed to accessibility, education and social justice. The local Mexican community was a big motivator as many other art institutions did not feature Mexican art.
The museum’s founding mission states:
“To showcase the beauty and richness of Mexican culture by sponsoring events and presenting exhibitions that exemplify the majestic variety of visual and performing arts in the Mexican culture; to develop, conserve and preserve a significant permanent collection of Mexican art; to encourage the professional development of Mexican artists; and, to offer arts-education programs.”
This institution has grown tremendously over the years, with its audience reaching across the United States and beyond. It has become a focal point of interest in the local community and in the city of Chicago. The museum takes great pride in being the only Latino museum in the country accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and that shows through in the depth of Mexican art, culture, and history that can be found there.
There is an impressive collection of significant works by Mexican artists and artifacts from throughout Mexican history. The museum features a variety of Mexican, Latino and Chicano art and exhibitions. Twenty of the exhibitions of have traveled across the United States and six have traveled to Mexico. Some of the more famous ones include The Art of the Other Mexico (1992), Maria Izquierdo (1996), The African Presence in Mexico (2006), and Frida’s Contemporaries: Women Artists of Modern Mexico (2007).
The National Museum of Mexican Art also offers a wide variety of educational programs for children and families, teens, school groups, and educators. The art exhibitions, performance arts, and educational programs are experienced by more than 130,000 visitors annually, including 58,000 K-12 students. Art can act as such an important bridge between communities and if Mexican and Latino culture is something you want to learn more about, there are few better bridges out there to cross.
Interested in exploring The National Museum of Mexican Art with your students? Check out our educational tour to Chicago itinerary – Spanish on Location: Chicago!
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