Little by little: that’s how Peter Rodríguez, in his repeated trips to Mexico in the 1950s and 60s, collected art and met the artists that would make his Mexican Museum in San Francisco a means to continue his journey.
It was Rodriguez’ vision to create an institution in the United States that displayed the art of the Mexican and Mexican-American people, the driving force behind the creation of the museum.
His work as a San Francisco Arts Commissioner from 1977 to 1986, as well as his stint as a member of the consultant panel for the National Endowment for the Arts from 1978 to 1980, helped the museum grow.
The museum received donations that bolstered a permanent collection that today comprises 15,500 works of art, which barely can be displayed in its current location at Fort Mason, where the Museum moved in 1982.
In 1985 the museum acquired the Rockefeller collection of Mexican folk art, a donation by Anna Rockefeller Roberts. In 1999 the pre-Hispanic art collection of Bernard and Edith Lewin followed. In 2000, the museum received: the Mexican popular art collection of Rex May; the Paul Sherrill collection of Mexican folk art; and the collection of Rosa and Miguel Covarrubias, which contained more than 2,500 paintings, ceramics and photographs donated by Thomas and Adriana Williams.
The museum’s collection includes pre-Hispanic art, colonial art of the 18th and 19th centuries, crafts pieces of the 20th century, paintings, sculptures and art on paper by artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo. The museum has a growing collection of contemporary Chicano art by Alejandro Colunga, Enrique Chagoya, Rupert García, Carmen Lomas Garza, Ester Hernández, Patssi Valdez, Gronk and many more.
Throughout its nearly 40 years of history, the Mexican Museum left its mark on San Francisco cultural circles with exhibitions such as: “The Art of Rupert García” in 1986; “The Wonderful Real” by Carmen Lomas Garza in 1987; “Passion for Frida” in 1991; “Nahum B. Zenil: Witness of Being “ in 1996; “Patssi Valdez: a Precarious Comfort” in 1999; “Chicano in Mictlán: Día de los muertos in Califonia” in 2000; “Mexican Christmas Traditions” in 2009; and ”Faces/Stories” in 2012.
In 2018, the museum plans to open its doors at its new location at Mission and Third streets, opposite of the Yerba Buena Gardens. The museum will display more of art, and has planned an exhibition titled ”Mexicanidad.”
Until Jan. 18, 2015, the Mexican Museum is showing the exhibition ”La Cocina: The Culinary Treasures of Rosa Covarrubias,” including photographs, ceramics and kitchenware from the mid-20th century. The Mexican Museum is located in Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco. More
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The Mexican Museum is also showing sculptures by Francisco Zúñiga, Felipe Castañeda, José Luis Cuevas, Jorge Durón, Armando Amaya, Manuel Neri, Byron Galvez and Gunther Gerzso on the Kalmanovitz Hall Rooftop at the USF University campus, until the end of the year.
For more about the Mexican Museum founder Peter Rodriguez, read El Tecolote’s Peter Rodriguez profile.