Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City

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Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo
Entrance to the museum
Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City is located in Mexico City Central
Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City
Location in central/western Mexico City
Established May 29, 1981; 34 years ago (1981-05-29)
Location Paseo de la Reforma 51 Bosque de Chapultepec Mexico, MX 11580
Coordinates 19°25′33″N 99°10′54″W / 19.42572°N 99.181716°W / 19.42572; -99.181716
Director Carmen Cuenca
This article is about the museum in Mexico City. For the museum in Oaxaca, see Museo Rufino Tamayo, Oaxaca.

Museo Rufino Tamayo is an art museum located in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park, principally dedicated to the former private collection of artist Rufino Tamayo and temporary exhibits of contemporary art. The building was the first major museum in Mexico built with private funds, with Tamayo participating in its design, which won the Premio Nacional de Arte in 1982. The permanent collection is still mostly the Tamayo collection with over 300 paintings, sculptures and more by artists such as Picasso, Joan Miró and René Magritte. The Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) has run the museum since 1986 and in 2012, the facility was expanded from three halls to five.


The museum building is a modular construction from the 1980s, expanded in 2012 in a small section of Chapultepec Park it shares with the Museo Nacional de Antropología e Historia, separated from the main part by Paseo de la Reforma.[1][2] The vestibule contains a mural painted in 1952 by Tamayo called Homenaje a la raza India.[3] It has five main halls for exhibitions, along with a cafeteria, and museum shop. It has an auditorium named after Moisés Cosío, who founded the Alumnos 47 Foundation.[4] One other feature is the Cyberlounge, opened in 2001 and dedicated to electronic art. Visitors can see artwork online, view videos and listen to music. It is also designed for artistic experimentations, with furniture especially designed for it by Bernardo Gomez-Pimienta.[5][6]

The permanent collection contains 315 works including paintings, sculptures, engravings, photographs, textiles, drawings and art objects, mostly representing trends from the mid 20th century. It includes artists such as Picasso, Mark Rothko, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Fernando Botero, Francis Bacon, Pierre Soulages, René Magritte, Isamu Noguchi and Robert Motherwell.[1][5] The collection still is mostly that originally donated by Rufino Tamayo but some new pieces have been bought such as the 2009 purchase of photographs by Italian Luisa Lambre taken in 2005 at the Luis Barragán House and Studio .[7]

The museum is part of the Institucion Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Mexican national network of museums, with its current director Carmen Cuenca Carrara.[2][8] It is operated in conjunction with the Olga and Rufino Tamayo Foundation, whose director is David Cohen.[9] Most of its activities relate to the permanent collection and the hosting of temporary exhibits but it also host night events, guided tours, workshops, classes and a club for children.[2] As of 2006 the museum attracts over 126,000 visitors each year.[5]


Exhibit of Tamayo's work for the 2012 reopening of the museum

Later in life, artist Rufino Tamayo and his wife Olga collected international contemporary art. In the late 1970s, the couple decided to donate the collection of about 300 pieces with a value of over ten million USD to the government with the purpose of created a museum.[3][8] Tamayo initially tried to get the Mexican government to fund the opening of the museum but was rejected several times, with the only result being the donation of its current land, which was the former Chapultepec Golf Club.[3] Instead, Tamayo turned to private sources to fund the building, principally with Grupo Alfa and the Televisa Foundation, making it the first major museum in Mexico founded with private funds.[8] The building was designed by architects Abraham Zabludovsky and Teodoro González de León. The building was designed with the participation of Tamayo, to be another piece of art for the collection. The design won the National Architecture Prize in 1981 and the Premio Nacional de las Artes in 1982.[3][5]

The museum was inaugurated on May 29, 1981, with curator Fernando Gamboa as its first director. However, after only a few weeks the new director was Alberto Raurell, who died only months after that.[8] Starting in 1982 Tamayo was in conflict with Televisa as the museum was not exhibiting the work as promised, accusing Televisa of treating the collection as its private property.[3]

In 1982 the museum created along with INBA and the state of Oaxaca a Biennal painting competition with Tamayo’s name, counting artists such as Irma Palacios and Miguel Castro Leñero as winners. It was originally held in the city of Oaxaca but moved to the museum a few years later. Since 1992, winners of the competition have become part of the collection of Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Oaxaca.[5]

The third director was Robert Littman, who worked to develop the museum. This included various temporary exhibitions such as Mexican textiles to Japanese packaging to modern Italian design. However, this activity caused problems with Tamayo, who felt that the museum had drifted from its original purpose, which was to share this art collection with the Mexican public. Tamayo negotiated with Televisa and the federal government to have Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes take over the museum, with reinauguration on September 9, 1986, with a new director Cristina Gálvez Guzzy.[8] Although there was a contract to keep the museum private for 100 years, Televisa agreed to end it for the new arrangement.[3]

In 1987, the museum hosted a national homage to Tamayo to celebrate 70 years of his career along with the Palacio de Bellas Artes. From 1986 until his death in 1991, Tamayo himself often worked with the museum to promote the permanent collection.[8] In 1988 the new director was María Teresa Márquez. The museum began to host exhibitions by other modern Mexican artists including Juan Soriano and Gabriel Orozco. It also created “Galería 7” dedicated to the works of young artists which have included Miguel Calderón and Minerva Cuevas .[8] In 1989, the Olga and Rufino Tamayo Foundation was created, when the museum was having financial difficulties. It is still involved in the museum’s fundraising and operations. It also publishes various printed materials for the public and promotes cultural exchanges.[8][10]

In 2000, the museum’s facilities were modernized with new facilities such as the Cyberlounge created.From 2002 to 2009 Ramiro Martínez was director, with the museum balancing temporary exhibits of newer artists from Mexico and abroad as well as those of older artists from the 1970s and 1980s.[8]

In 2009 plans were announced for the expansion of the museum from three halls to five and a total space of 1,600m2.[7] The museum closed in 2011 and reopened on August 26, 2012. The work expanded the museum’s area by thirty percent, mostly pedagogical areas, exhibit space, storage facilities, museum store and restaurant. The cost of the work was over 100 million pesos, one third of which was raised by the Tamayo Foundation with the rest by INBA and CONACULTA. The expansion aimed to extend the original lines of the museum, without changing its aesthetics.[3]

The reopening of the museum, attended by Mexican president Felipe Calderón, featured seven temporary exhibits by varying artists including a retrospective of Tamayo’s work called Tamayo/Trayectos).[3][9] However, there was some controversy surrounding the museum’s expansion shortly after the reopening with art writers Raquel Tibol and Margo Glantz protesting the naming of two of the museum’s halls after business magnates Carlos Hank Rhon and Angélica Fuentes Téllez .[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Museo Rufino Tamayo (D.F.)" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Mexico Desconocido magazine. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Artes de Mexico magazine. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Reabre sus puertas el Museo Tamayo en Chapultepec" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Proceso magazine. August 26, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Repudian que salas del Museo Tamayo lleven nombres de Hank Rhon y Angélica Fuentes" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Proceso magazine. August 23, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Daniel Rodríguez Barrón (May 28, 2006). "Museo Tamayo: Celebran 25 años de acercar público y arte" [Museo Tamayo: Celebrates 25 years bringing together art and the public]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 2. 
  6. ^ Blanca Ruiz (August 17, 2001). "El Cyberlounge del Museo Tamayo" [The Cyberlounge of the Museo Tamayo]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 34. 
  7. ^ a b Ricardo Jorge (April 24, 2009). "Crece con 70 mdp el Museo Tamayo" [Museo Tamayo grows with 70 million pesos]. Reforma (in Spanish) (Mexico City). p. 25. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "History of the Museum". Mexico City: Museo Rufino Tamayo. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Reinauguran el Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo" [Re inaugurate the Museo Tamayo] (Press release) (in Spanish). CONACULTA. August 21, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Olga and Rufino Tamayo Foundation". Mexico City: Museo Rufino Tamayo. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 

19°25′32.59″N 99°10′54.64″W / 19.4257194°N 99.1818444°W / 19.4257194; -99.1818444Coordinates: 19°25′32.59″N 99°10′54.64″W / 19.4257194°N 99.1818444°W / 19.4257194; -99.1818444

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