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Mexican Museum facts for kids

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El Museo Mexicano or The Mexican Museum is a San Francisco, California, United States museum created to exhibit the aesthetic expression of the Latino, Chicano, Mexican, and Mexican-American people. Currently, their exhibition space at Fort Mason Center is permanently closed.


The Mexican Museum of San Francisco was founded by San Francisco artist Peter Rodríguez in 1975. It holds a permanent collection of over 14,000 objects including Pre-Hispanic, Colonial, Popular, Mexican and Latino Modern, and Mexican, Latino, and Chicano Contemporary art.

The Museum was originally located in San Francisco's Mission District. Initially, in 1995, it was announced that renowned Mexican architect and Pritzker Prize winner Ricardo Legoretta would design the new museum at the projected Yerba Buena Gardens location. But eventually the Legoretta design plans fell by the wayside as the project's economics were scaled down greatly.

In 2001, the Museum was relocated to its current location at Fort Mason Center, Building D, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, San Francisco. As of 2015, the museum's new location is planned to be built in the SoMa district on Mission Street across from Yerba Buena Gardens, as part the 53-story Yerba Buena tower, which will consist mostly of luxury condominiums.

In 2017, there was a shocking report which revealed that 96% of the museum's 2,000 pre-Colombian artifacts were not authentic and could only be classed as "decorative"; thus only 83 pieces of 2,000, or just over four percent could be certified as “museum-quality.” That was the main finding of a report commissioned by the museum in accordance with a requirement of the Smithsonian Institution before acceptance into the AAM (American Association of Museums). The Mexican Museum was accepted as an affiliate in 2012. The self-commissioned study, which cost $80,000, was conducted by an independent team of museum curators from Mexico City to survey the museum's holdings. The first 2,000 artifacts audited are only part of the museum's 16,500-piece (as of 2020) permanent collection.

A clarification on that study: the archaeologist who wrote the report, Dr. Eduardo Perez De Heredia, said the rest of the pieces are still being studied, and may turn out to be real or not. “This is just the process . . . We have two years to finish examining the collection,” said Dr. Perez De Heredi. He points out that U.S. museums often receive high-end forgeries as donations. The authentication process is meant to sort those out. The Mexican Museum is under heavy scrutiny before it moves to its new location near the SFMOMA. The $33 million location will open in 2019 and is recognized by the Smithsonian. This makes it a national-level museum, and therefore brings with it higher standards. So while the artwork itself can be left to the viewers own interpretation, the quality cannot.

Notwithstanding the eye-opening report, the museum was still planning to move. The entire relocation project is envisaged to cost $500 million ($30 million of which for the museum), and to open in 2020. The city of San Francisco granted the Mexican Museum a 66-year lease for its future use of the site, renewable for 33 years. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has put the formal opening of the new facility on hold, until further notice.

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