The eclectic collection at the Museo Dolores Olmedo includes a treasure trove of folk art representing traditions from the many diverse cultures of Mexico. It also boasts one of the largest exhibits of paintings by the famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera, who were close friends of the museum’s founder, businesswoman and art collector Dolores Olmedo.
Housed in a colonial hacienda, the museum displays a large range of artifacts gathered during Olmedo’s lifetime, including several 17th-century Japanese and Chinese prints, lacquer, and ivory carvings. Yet the highlight of the museum may be its enormous collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts from civilizations such as the Olmec, Aztec, Huastecas, and Maya, many of which portray the Xoloitzcuintle dog, the emblem of the museum.
On the museum grounds, a large enclosure houses an actual living pack of these unique dogs, an ancient hairless breed that was a favorite pet of Olmedo’s and was considered sacred by the Aztecs, who believed the animals guided the dead through the underworld. Here too are flocks of African guinea fowl and geese, pheasants, bantam chickens, and muscovy ducks. But it’s the peacocks that really steal the show with their psychedelic plumage. They strut around the courtyards spreading out their tail feathers in front of admiring visitors in what seems to be a dazzling performance of vanity.
The gardens have a captivating charm, with sprawling lawns lined by gigantic eucalyptus and gnarled cypress trees. The grounds are dotted by large agave plants and cacti which, judging by their size, must be decades old, while colorful ornamental vines adorn all of the museum buildings in living walls of vibrant red, orange, and purple flowers.
Know Before You Go
The Dolores Olmedo Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The entrance fee is $100 pesos or $50 pesos for Mexican citizens, foreign residents, and students. To get there via public transportation, take the tren ligero train to "La Noria" station which is located three blocks from the museum. The little cafe/restaurant at the back of the gardens is excellent and serves some delicious traditional dishes and a good cup of coffee or tea.
Cultural events are also held monthly at the museum; past events have included live jazz concerts and modern art exhibitions. The museum also hosts an extravagant annual display that coincides with the Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Day), featuring hundreds of colorful and humorous skeleton scenes.