National Museum of Art
The National Museum of Art (MUNAL), founded in 1982 and located in the historical center of Mexico City, hosts the most important collection of Mexican art in the country. The collection was created by merging the national stock the National Fine Arts Institute (INBA) had held since 1946, which, in turn, came from a variety of institutions, the Modern Art Museum, the San Carlos Museum, and the San Diego Viceregal Painting Gallery.
At present the MUNAL’s collection consists of more than 3,551 works, including among them magnificent exemplars of painting, sculpture, engraving and drawing, as well as folk art and photography, some of which are veritable masterpieces. Moreover, the museum hosts works from María Izquierdo, José María Velasco, Saturnino Herrán, Gerardo Murillo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, seven of those nine artists whose works are considered to constitute an “Artistic Monument”.
The outstanding collection of Viceregal art that is now in the National Museum of Art was assembled in two phases, the first lasting from 1982 to 1988, when the museum was founded, and the second as on 1999, when the collection of the San Diego Viceregal Painting Gallery became part of our museum’s stock. Thanks to that the MUNAL has become the depositary of the most important collection of colonial art in Mexico.
This collection dates back to 1783, when the Academy San Carlos was founded. In 1820, the collection of the aforesaid teaching institution was enriched by works originating from the recently closed establishments of the Hospitaller congregations. The collection continued to be extended by other works, from various convents, that ended up in the museum during the War of Independence, and also by those bought in 1843, when the Academy profited from the income it received from the National Lotery. The paintings that came from the convents that were closed down under the Reform promulgated by Benito Juarez in 1859 were also added to the Academy’s stock.
Nineteenth (19th) Century
The collected works of the nineteenth century cover representative examples of the art movement that was emerged in 1785 and prevailed throughout the 19th century. The most cultivated genres in this period were historic paintings, religious representations and, towards mid-century, national landscapes. The works originating from the academies and regional schools were indicative of the various influences and trends that had an impact on artists during this century, which was primordially a period devoted to the construction of ideologies and the building of a national identity.
Moreover, a large part of the XIXth-century collection dates back to the foundation of the “Academy of San Carlos of the Three Noble Arts” in 1783. Another important date is 1843, the year in which the Academy San Carlos was reorganized by presidential decree, which the encouraged of works by its staff and students. The works that emerge from this institution, during the period from its reorganization until the early XXth century, are marked by neoclassical, romantic, realist and modernist influences, and feature mythological topics, political allegories, scenes from the Bible, incidents from Mexican and world history, landscapes, and urban and Costumbrista scenes, as well as pessimistic pieces reflecting fin-de-siècle awareness of the decline of civilization.
Twentieth (20th) Century
These galleries are distinguished by the works of the unsurpassed advocates of Mexican art: Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, as well as other artists that are interested in the recuperation of the indigenous vein as the foundation of the national art par excellence. Thus, the entire XXth –century collection- consists of 1533 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographies which pertain various schools, trends, styles and artists; as well as 436 works of representative artists who adhered to different visual and technical tenets.