Located in Xochimilco, at Mexico City’s southern extreme, the Dolores Olmedo Museum is housed in a rambling stone structure, originally dating from the Sixteenth Century, formerly known as the Hacienda La Noria.
By donating her art collection to the people of Mexico, Dolores Olmedo Patiño (1908-2002) created a cohesive whole, where treasures of the fine arts were incorporated into colonial construction added during the Seventeenth Century, surrounded by lush gardens, shaded by singularly Mexican plant species, and inhabited by gorgeous animals like the magical peacocks –seemingly confected of living jewels—and the enigmatic hairless Xoloiztcuintle dogs, a Precolumbian breed that is unique to behold and warm to the touch.
Since the museum opened its doors to the public in September of 1994, its greatest treasure is its painting. The world’s most important collections of works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are housed here permanently and are adored by the legions of visitors who flock to admire them. There is, as well, a collection of the woodcuts and book illustrations by Russo-French painter Angelina Beloff, Rivera’s companion during his early years as a budding painter in Europe.
In addition, a privileged display of over nine hundred archaeological pieces provides interest and contrast, as well as a glimpse of the aesthetic of a number among Mexico’s diverse ancient cultures. Gilded wooden figures from the Colonial period create another contrast. And as evidence of Mexico’s ever-vibrant creative imperative, a collection of popular art presents the largely-anonymous masterpieces of ceramic, wood, tin, lacquer, papier-mâché and copper, that village craftsman have produced for generations, and that still serve as the utensils and implements, as well as the ceremonial offerings, of their daily lives.
Another setting, Dolores Olmedo’s own home, provides an additional panorama of art from the Far East, with a collection of ivory, porcelain, cloisonné and Chinese lacquer against the background of Doña Lola’s own furnishings and personal memorabilia, including paintings, photographs, sketches, portraits, cartoons, and documents, all available to the public.
In addition, the museum offers a regular program of varied temporary exhibits, including the works of artists both Mexican and international, the contemporary, the established, all those who have found in this lovely scenery a worthy backdrop for their personal expression.
The Museum furthermore offers concerts, recitals, dance programs, crafts fairs, among the weekend events included in the price of admission. Visitors can also enjoy plastic arts workshops for both adults and children, guided tours of the museum collections with well-informed commentary, informal talks and knowledgeable lectures. Also available are a shop stocked with books and folk art, and a charming café, shaded by ancient trees, with a view of the gardens and the venerable stone plaza.