About the National Museum of Mexican Art

Come to The National Museum of Mexican Art, where you can immerse yourself in the richness of Mexican art and culture right here in Chicago. Whatever your background, you’ll connect to this museum on a very personal level.

We showcase 3,000 years of creativity from both sides of the border, connecting museum visitors to the diversity of Mexican culture.  

You’ll find us in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Here, in the heart of the city’s Mexican community, our 10,000-piece permanent collection meets the highest museum standards. Our pieces and exhibitions travel to museums around the globe because the quality of our collection is highly valued. But here at home, the museum is always free. 

Our curators are experts in Mexican art and their passion for the museum is contagious. You’ll pick this up at every turn, from the up-close-and-personal placement of the art to the bilingual stories that guide you through the galleries.  Over the years we’ve inspired and empowered tens of thousands of children and youth through arts education programs. They may be studying to be career artists or learning new ways to express themselves. Kids of all ages work together in our after school classes, summer camps, and teen mentorships.

Our Roots and Mission

In 1982, Carlos Tortolero organized a group of fellow educators and founded the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, which opened its doors in 1987. The goal was to establish an arts and cultural organization committed to accessibility, education and social justice. The museum also provided a positive influence for the local Mexican community, especially since many other art institutions did not address Mexican art.

Over the years, the institution has grown, its audience has broadened, and its reach now extends across the United States and beyond. To support this evolution, in 2001, the museum expanded  to a 48,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Pilsen and in 2006 we unveiled a new name, the National Museum of Mexican Art. While our presence has grown, the NMMA remains true to our founding missionTo showcase the beauty and richness of Mexican culture by sponsoring events and presenting exhibitions that exemplify the majestic variety of visual and performing arts in the Mexican culture; to develop, conserve and preserve a significant permanent collection of Mexican art; to encourage the professional development of Mexican artists; and, to offer arts-education programs.

National Museum of Mexican Art Now

Today, the National Museum of Mexican Art stands out as one of the most prominent first-voice institutions for Mexican art and culture in the United States. We are home to one of the country’s largest Mexican art collections, including more than 10,000 seminal pieces from ancient Mexico to the present.

As the first Latino museum accredited by American Alliance of Museums, we recognize our unique responsibility to present exhibitions of artistic and cultural value and to deliver high-quality education that demonstrates the breadth and depth of Mexican art, culture and history.

Twenty of our exhibitions have traveled across the United States and six have traveled to Mexico.  Landmark exhibitions that have traveled include The Art of the Other Mexico (1992), Maria Izquierdo (1996), The African Presence in Mexico (2006), and Frida's Contemporaries:Women Artists of Modern Mexico (2007). (Learn more about past exhibitions.)

The National Museum of Mexican Art also hosts cultural programs — including symposia, theater, dance, music, authors and performance companies — that share the rich diversity of the Mexican culture. Our annual Sor Juana Festival  honors the accomplishments of Mexican women with women’s performances.

As a nonprofit institution, the NMMA is funded by donations and grants. Learn how you can support the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Sin Fronteras: Reaching Beyond Borders

The National Museum of Mexican Art defines Mexican culture as sin fronteras (without borders), and our programs and exhibitions capture the wide range of Mexican cultural expressions and art forms, from ancient to modern and on both sides of the border. We represent the Mexican community from its own point of view and in its own voice.

We believe in art as a bridge between communities, and we believe that art in education expands minds and breaks down barriers while preserving cultural heritages. The National Museum of Mexican Art offers a wide range of educational programs for children and families, teens, school groups, and educators. Our art exhibitions, performance arts and educational programs are experienced by more than 130,000 visitors annually, including 58,000 K–12 students.

The National Museum of Mexican Art is also a national leader and mentor for cultural institutions and community organizations, and for our advocacy of “first voice” and cultural equity issues. From building a world-class institution in Chicago’s largely Mexican American neighborhood of Pilsen to creating groundbreaking exhibitions and forming partnerships with institutions in Mexico, the National Museum of Mexican Art has a history of being bold and activist in our approach and reach.