A brief report on the Soumaya Museum (and why you should visit while the entrance is still free).
By Karenina Osnaya, Mexico (Published in Issue 5)
POISED to become one of the most popular museums, not only in Mexico City but in the whole of Latin America, the Soumaya Museum is an impressive 17 000 square meter building, holding a collection of more than 66,000 pieces of art, including the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of France, and the world’s largest collection of pre Hispanic and colonial era coins.
While waiting to get inside of the Museum, it is impossible not to be astounded by this asymmetrical, bee hive- looking building (tessellations to the greatest of scales tend to have this effect on people). Its narrow entrance which opens to a large white gallery, welcomes you with Rodin’s Thinker, an omen of what you’re about to find inside: which is an impressive collection of art amassed by one of the richest men in the world, arranged very poorly. While it is true that the museum holds works from many notable masters of fine arts, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, El Greco, Pierre August Renoir, Claude Monet and the Mexicans; Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera, it is also true that the bright white walls do not help visitors to appreciate all of these wonders of art, nor does the lighting favour the process either. Beware of how you decide to walk through each of the six floors, you might find yourself trapped in one of the many dead end allies throughout the museum, or even worse, that you leave the building without seeing some of the greatest portraits and landscapes of Mexico in the XIX century. To admire in this museum is not an easy feat.
Proceed with care when you get to the sixth floor, while you’ll be impressed by the magnificent column less ceiling, which permits the entrance of the natural light, a cautious walk should not be overlooked, there are no walls or handrails to protect you from a light, but nevertheless annoying fall. Also, if you’re planning to bring an elderly guest, be prepared to perform as a human handrail throughout your entire visit, the ramps for walking to each of the levels hold nothing but a very brief description about the next level.
Taking these details into consideration, a visit to the Soumaya Museum should not be neglected. Defenders of the principle “Form Follows Function”, bear in mind that the phrase will always open a discussion. And as for the poor museology, as a friend said to me when I narrated my visit: “Well... what did you expect from a man who built a museum in the shape of a trophy”.
Karenina Osnaya also likes sleeping on park benches.