Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mexico City, Day 7: Diego Rivera, the National Palace, and Frida Kahlo, Too!

Bear with me folks...we are now, finally, entering our last day in Mexico City (Well, there was an eighth day, but that was mainly travel, so I'll spare you the boring details)!

Our seventh day in Mexico City began with a very nice complimentary piece to Day Six's visit to the anthropology museum.

Whereas yesterday we learned many things about the societal origins of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, today's visit to the Palacio Nacional taught us many things about the country's political history.

The National Palace has acted as a base of operations for Mexico's ruling class since the days of the Aztec empire. It is currently home to various offices for both the Federal Treasury and National Archives. And, of course, a sprawling museum exhibit.

Visitors to the palace are first treated to (or horrified by, depending on your outlook) a video honoring the 2010 bicentennial of Mexico's independence, as well as the centennial of it's Revolution. The video is 100% propaganda and, although beautifully rendered with copious amounts of national pride, did have the (un)intentional consequence of making the only two gringos in the room feel just a tad bit out of place.

Upon exiting the indoctrination chamber...I mean viewing room, one is treated to a gigantic mural painted by Diego Rivera. "The Epic of the Mexican People" (1929-1935) adorns the main stairwell and various walls of the second floor. It tells an illustrative history of Mexico from 1521 to 1930. The murals have the honor of being the only items in the palace that one can photograph. So, here's a small sample for you.

Remember waaaaay back on Day 1.5, when we talked about the relocation of the bodily remains of the heroes of Mexico's War of Independence? Well, the National Palace is their current resting place. Ta-Dah! The remains underwent modern techniques for continued preservation before arriving at their current location by way of horse-drawn carriages escorted by armed soldiers. They will remain on display at the palace through the duration of this year's celebration.

The remainder of the museum contains an impressive collection of presidential portraits, the style of which changes with each decade and artist. As with Chapultepec Castle (and the White House, Versailles, etc.) there are also dozens of rooms cordoned off by velvet rope permitting a look-but-don't touch approach to palatial living.

Our final stop of the day (and trip) was the former home of Diego Rivera (see above) and Frida Kahlo.

La Casa Azul was the birthplace of Frida Kahlo, the most renowned Latin American artist in the world. It was in this house that she lived for a time with her husband, artist Diego Rivera. In 1958, four years after her death, La Casa Azul was turned into a museum, and has remained so ever since.

This particular museum was of great interest to us, and we thought that perhaps we had saved the best for last. We unfortunately found ourselves more than a little disappointed by the modest blue house. It was by no means a large collection of art. But at least what they did have was beautiful.
But like the National Palace, photography was not permitted.

I found myself harassed by the staff on more than one occasion. Once, when I was yelled at to throw away a soda bottle (empty since before my entrance, I assure you, and seen by at least two employees prior to it suddenly becoming a security issue) and again when our path through the museum was called into question. Apparently your entry fee of $65 MXP only permits you to walk through the museum once, and in a specified direction.

But the sugar cookies in the small cafeteria were good. And the interior courtyard was beautiful.

But, alas...since photos are worth a thousand words, and I have no more photos...I find myself out of things to say about this particular destination.

Good-bye, Mexico City...I hope to see you again some day!

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