The Soumaya Museum in Mexico City is part of the Carlos Slim Foundation, a non-profit institution founded by the man many consider the richest in the world. The Foundation implements social and cultural programs with the goal of reducing poverty.
The museum opened its doors in 1994, and by 2011 the construction of the second phase was completed. The new building was designed by a young, promising architect, Fernando Romero, who is also Slim’s son-in-law. It is safe to say that rather than an architectural project, the construction of the new wing is a personal matter, very dear to the Slim family.
The museum has a total area of 182,000 square feet and is located in an exclusive neighborhood of Mexico City, recently revitalized by the presence of commercial developments, office buildings and luxury homes. It is significant to mention, as it is usually the case with modern museum construction, that Soumaya was conceived as part of a large scale project that articulates the cultural environment of its location, affording new uses to public spaces.
From the outside, the building presents an asymmetrical shape, making it possible for every visitor to have a singular, unique and changing view, depending on the light and time of day. The structure was constructed with 28 individually shaped curved steel columns, and the stability of the building is guaranteed by seven structural beams.
The facade is covered with hexagonal aluminum modules aimed to optimize the conservation and durability of the construction. The modules provide a rather opaque wrap, and have few openings to the outside. On the top floor, where the horizontal space is largest, the ceiling is suspended from a cantilever that lets in natural light.
1. The Kiss.
2. The Cathedral.
Visitors can admire pieces by Rodin (the largest collection outside France), and by artists such as El Greco, Van Gogh and Picasso. There are also Mexican works from the Viceroyalty until the 20th century, by artists like Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo and Toledo.
The museum is already being praised as one of the ten best in the world. Admission is free, and it is open 365 days a year. Check it out! ■