Museum of Folk Art

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The Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Folk Art) is a museum in Mexico City, Mexico that promotes and preserves part of the Mexican handcrafts and folk art. Located in the historic center of Mexico City in an old fire house, the museum has a collection which includes textiles, pottery, glass, piñatasalebrijes, furniture and much more. However, the museum is best known as the sponsor of the yearly, Noche de Alebrijes (Night of the Alebrijes) parade in which the fantastical creatures are constructed on a monumental scale and then paraded from the main plaza or Zocalo to the Angel of Independence monument, competing for prizes.

In 2004, anthropologist Ruth D. Lechuga donated her private collection of artifacts and personal items to the museum. The collection contained over 14,000 artifacts, 5,000 books and magazines and 1,000 personal effects documenting Lechuga’s life from her family’s flight from the Nazi Anschluss in her native Austria to the years dedicated to the research on Mexico’s indigenous populations.

The Museo de Arte Popular opened in March 2006. Its purpose is to serve as a reference for Mexican crafts as well as promoting them through workshops, and other events to both Mexico and foreign tourism and dignify Mexican crafts though restoration of older works and the promotion of their creation both inside and outside the museum itself.

Every weekend the museum has workshops for children between six and twelve in various crafts with the aim of preserving these crafts. Workshops include those on paper cutting, amate (bark) paper and papier-mâché. For special occasions such as Dia de Muertos, workshops have included those on making Catrina figures, sugar skulls and traditional candies. Part of the courtyard of the Museum of Artes Populares in Mexico City

The gift shop contains a wide variety of crafts for sale from the most traditional to the most recent reinterpretations of various crafts, containing items such as furniture, textiles and toys from all parts of the republic of Mexico. The museum’s store is non-profit, designed to help artisans get better prices for their products. Many of the products come from villages in Michoacán, often populated only by women and children as the men go to places like the United States to work. Sales of their products have been good enough to entice a number of men to return home and work at the crafts.

The building is considered to be the second most important Art Deco building in Mexico City, with the first being the main offices of the Secretariat of Health in Chapultepec. It was donated to the museum project by the government of Mexico City. The building was constructed in 1927 by architect Vicente Mendiola as part of the government’s efforts to modernize the city’s infrastructure at the time. The building has a central patio in which the fire trucks were parked, and three floors for offices and quarters. In its exterior, it has tower on the corner facing the intersection with a light at the top to be used to signal an emergency. Another feature of the building is the relieves with pre-Hispanic motifs that decorate the facade in stone. The inner courtyard is covered by a modern glass cupola. By the 1980s the growth of the city had rendered the station inadequate and it was abandoned. It deteriorated afterwards because of the 1985 earthquake and the general deterioration of the historic center. In the 1990s, the city government decided to rescue the building and use it to collect and store a major collection of Mexican crafts. This project was given to Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon, who restored the building updating its interior.

The museum is best known for its yearly parade of “monumental alebrijes” which began as a yearly event in 2007. An alebrije is a fantastical creature, which usually include various parts of real-life or fantastic creatures. These not only include creatures such as flies with dragon tails and multi-headed lions, the works also carry fantastic names such as “La Mula de Seis” (The Six Mule), “Alebrijos” (combination of alebrije and “hijos” (sons)), “AH1N1” and “La Gárgola de la Atlántida” (The Gargoyle of Atlantis). Normal alebrijes are small sculptures made of cardboard or wood, painted in bright colors and mostly made in central Mexico and Oaxaca state. Monumental alebrejes are floats with the tallest one so far being four meters tall by three meters wide.

The event is called La Noche de los Alebrijes (Night of the Alebrijes) and organized by the Museo de Arte Popular in collaboration with the Mexico City government with the support of CONACULTA and various private institutions and individuals. The purpose of the parade is to promote the work of modern Mexican artists and artisans. The process of creating the alebrijes begins in June, with the parade taking place at the end of October. Most of the monumental alebrijes are created with cardboard except for those from Oaxaca which are partially made of wood, and wind their way from the main plaza (Zócalo), through the historic center onto the Paseo de la Reforma ending at the Angel of Independence. The alebrijes compete for first, second and third prizes of 50,000, 30,000 and 20,000 pesos.After the parade, later in the day, the winners are chosen and other events such as the Alebrije Puppet Contest and the Alebrije Short Story Contest take place.

The 2007 parade had thirty five alebrijes with 200,000 spectators filling the streets of the city center. In 2008, there were seventy five alebrijes with more than two million spectators. The 2009 parade had 120 floats registered with it, coming from Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Puebla, Oaxaca and Morelos. Marching bands such as the Navy band and the state bands of the states of Mexico and Morelos and Private bands such as El Reflejo Sinaloense, La Usurpadora, Cerro Verde and La Coqueta also participated. All of the alebrijes were newly created for the event and were designed by more than 100 artists. After the parade, the alebrijes are placed on display for about two weeks on Paseo de la Reforma between the Angel of Independence and the Diana Fountain. The director of the museum stated that each year both the number and the quality of the alebrijes have improved.

Becky Mawson
Becky Mawson
2019-11-07
Verified review
Beautiful space This hotel was perfect and clean with lots of thoughtful touches. The management were really helpful with suggesting things to do during our stay too. It’s a little bit out of the way but only a 30 minute Uber to the historical district so was still easy to get around.
qianis
qianis
2019-05-07
Verified review
A perfect hotel in Mexico City! This is our first time in Mexico, we booked Mex Suites Casa Azul B&B for 4 nights, we enjoyed it so much in the end we extended our staying to a week.The hotel is located at a mid class neighborhood area, where you can experience a real Mexico City rather than only the tourist part. This area is really safe, we walk on the street at night time with no worries at all. There are a couple of convenience stores just a few steps away. It takes about 20mins to Uber to the airport and 15mins to downtown.Maurice is such a great host and a wonderful person. He helped us a lot and we felt so lucky to get to know him. We came to Mexico without any plans and without knowing nothing about Mexico. Maurice helped us made our trip gradually during our stay, not just in Mexico City but also the whole country.We love taking Metrobus a lot, it is a great way to explore the city. Maurice gave us a metro card on our first day, which is super helpful.We hope we can come back to visit Maurice again in the future:)
campbells05
campbells05
2018-01-15
Verified review
Comfortable, peaceful and great host I spent 3 nights here in early December as a single female traveller. The owner Mauricio has converted his former business building into this very comfortable and peaceful oasis in Mexico City.My room on the second level was large and beautifully decorated with traditional Mexican tiles, pottery and rugs. The bed was comfortable and there was a microwave and fridge in the room. The personalised welcome note, bottle of wine and fruit were nice touches. My room was at the back away from the road (which is a reasonably quiet side street). It only had a window in the bathroom so it was a bit dark but this didn't bother me and allowed me to relax away from the chaos and noise of the city! There is a shared guest dining area for breakfast with a kitchen and also a tiny outside terrace where I enjoyed sharing my wine with a fellow sole female traveller.Mauricio is a thoughtful host who shared interesting insights into Mexico and its history. He is a former chemical engineer who studied in the USA and is now developing an eco-tourism experience in Belize. He has a wide range of interests and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him. He was very helpful in providing suggestions for what to see, advice about safety and transport options, and can also organise a private driver for a tour to Teotihuacan at a reasonable cost.I felt very safe staying here and highly recommend this place for sole female travellers and first time visitors to Mexico. It is about 30-40 minutes from the airport and Mauricio gives useful instructions for where to catch an Uber (which is safe and a bit cheaper than taxis).
Cartelita V
Cartelita V
2017-08-04
Verified review
Superbe Un petit coin de paradis au cœur de Mexico... Un très bel accueil, des conseils avisés de la part de Mauricio le patron et beaucoup de tranquillité. La suite Dali que nous avions est très spacieuse, très bien équipée. La décoration de cette maison est typique et chaleureuse. Les petits déjeuners sont parfaits. Promis, nous reviendrons!
Kristin P
Kristin P
2017-07-15
Verified review
Beautiful, great staff, will be coming back! We spent four nights here on a trip to Cuernavaca last week. We cannot say enough good things about this hotel. First, the people who work here are lovely. A+ service. (for example, one night at midnight I was feeling poorly and they gave us phone numbers for clinics, doctors and pharmacies, and made phone calls for us to be sure they could accommodate if needed). The rooms are lovely- all decorated with different regions of Mexico. Each room is unique. We were in a room with Guerrero furnishings and I wanted to take everything home with me! They have two pools, both lovely, and a nice little restaurant. Prices are modest. This is a great hotel for families. We will be back!!! Oh, we love Patricia...I'm not sure what her role is, but she showed us 10+ rooms so we could see the furnishings. She is the epitome of excellent service!
EviBr
EviBr
2017-07-10
Verified review
The friendliest hotel owners ever!! We just finished our stay at casa azul and we felt blessed to have stayed there. Mauritio and Ely, the owners, go out of their way to help their guests. We had the unfortunate experience that our luggage did not make it to Mexico City after our long flight. One of our suitcases arrived at the hotel in the middle of the next night. Ely woke up to handle this and never complained about it. Unfortunately the other suitcase was missing. As from that point, Ely did everything she could to help me, she called a million times to every possible service that could help us, which is obviously a frustrating job that I would not be able to handle myself. Meanwhile she insisted that we took the time to explore the city instead of waiting around. In the end she was the one that got me my suitcase back and we were so so great-full!!! Also, besides this, upon arrival, Mauritio took the time to give us all kind of suggestions on how we could make the most out of our short stay in MC. He gave us maps, a metro card, tips on restaurants and so much more. We had a truly wonderful stay despite our troubles and we really cannot thank this couple enough. If we ever go back to MC, without a doubt we will be staying here!!!
Jennifer L
Jennifer L
2016-10-17
Verified review
Lugar lindo! Adorei a decoração! Estilo casa colonial mexicana, do jeito que imaginava. Equipe nota 1000! O Mauricio é super solicito e explica TUDO sobre a cidade! Sempre tem água no quarto e vários agradinhos sutpresa. Bairro tranquilo. Quarto grande com linda decoracao mexicana e ótimo banheiro e ducha! O ambiente é muito tranquilo! Fiquei encantada pela a casa!Para o meu gosto o colchão era duro e por esse motivo não dormi bem, o que não incomodou outras pessoas do grupo. Não é tão perto do metrô quando se está com pessoas idosas. Usamos muito o Uber e o preço é bem acessível. Café da manhã é a lá carte, mas bem servido, tem fruta, suco, mas tb não é minha opção preferida, pois gosto de escolher na hora.
Betthillo
Betthillo
2016-09-19
Verified review
Excellent for relaxation Excellent family run small hotel...mexican ambiance...good for relaxing after running in the city...close by top and also neighborhood bars and restaurants..sure to be back. Good price range. Don't expect amenities from a big hotel as bar or exercise room.