Mexico’s resident Telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim, whose net worth tops $70 billion USD, sports the world’s largest collection of artwork by 19th century French Sculptor Auguste Rodin at over 380 pieces. In fact, his 66,000-piece art collection – arguably the most significant in Latin America – is also comprised of gems from the likes of Salvador Dali, Picasso, and Da Vinci, as well as many other notable European and Mexican artists from the 14th century onward.
In what can be viewed as a gift of civic pride, Slim commissioned architect and son-in-law Fernando Romero to design for him a museum which would channel the artistic essence of one of Rodin’s sculptures in its own appearance, and would provide a venue for Slim’s $700 million+ art collection to be freely displayed to the public. In what can be called a fitting romantic tribute, Slim named the museum after his late wife Soumaya: an inspiration who he claims had a passion for art that ignited his own.
The Soumaya Museum opened in March of this year as part of Slim’s new $490 million plaza development on the edge of Polanco, Mexico’s business district. Shaped like an abstract twisted cube and covered by over 16,000 gleaming aluminum hexagons, you really can’t miss this $70 million building – integral to the plans for the area’s desired transformation into a prominent cultural center. The museum’s inside layout employs sweeping ramps – as well as escalators and staircases – against white baroque walls in a manner reminiscent of the Guggenheim in New York. The Soumaya comes complete with an auditorium, a library, and a cafeteria.
While housing classically inspired sculptures including Rodin’s The Thinker, the Soumaya Museum is also home to a rare and enticing collection of religious relics, pre-Hispanic and colonial coins, and historical documents from the times of conquistadors. Mexico’s post-revolutionary art boom is characterized in the paintings of artists such as Diego Rivera and Rufino Tayamo on display.
The art-enthusiast would surely be enthralled by the contents of the Soumaya Museum, all the while being treated to a glimpse into Mexico’s storied history. Slim has maintained that admission to the museum will always be free, an admirable outreach to art-loving tourists in Mexico and all over the world.
With pessimism toward Mexico’s drug violence still ongoing, it’s encouraging to see a sanctuary of art and culture being offered to those who appreciate it. Get ready to have your cosmopolitan horizons broadened, for the young professional this may be a potential travel stop worth noting.
Image courtesy Fernando_Romero’s Flickr.