Museo Rufino Tamayo is a public contemporary art museum located in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park, that produces contemporary art exhibitions, using its collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as artworks from the collection of its founder, the artist Rufino Tamayo.
The building was the first major museum in Mexico built with private funds, with Tamayo participating in its design, which won the Premio Nacional de Arte in 1982. The Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) has run the museum since 1986 and in 2012, the facility was expanded from three halls to five.
It is a public museum dedicated to presenting international contemporary art exhibitions and its collection of modern and contemporary art in order to enrich the aesthetic experience and foster the critical sense of the spectators. He also researches and disseminates in different formats the works of his collection, as well as the work of Rufino Tamayo.
Founded in 1981, the Tamayo Museum produces innovative exhibitions of the most representative of international contemporary art, its collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as the work of its founder, artist Rufino Tamayo, with the aim of enriching the aesthetic experience and critical sense of the different publics of the museum through research and interpretation of its programming.
Rufino Tamayo (Oaxaca, 1899 – Mexico City, 1991) began to collect pieces for his international contemporary art collection from the end of the 1960s, in order to give Mexicans access to twentieth-century art. This led to the creation of the Museo Tamayo, with its collection of artworks from the second half of the twentieth century. During its 31 years in existence, the museum has grown through donations from artists whose work has been exhibited there, and also thanks to a program of acquisitions by the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo (FORT) and most recently by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA).
The original museum was designed in 1972 by architects Abraham Zabludovsky and Teodoro González de León. After various hiatuses at the planning stage, construction began in 1979 on a plot of land donated by the government in Chapultepec Park; the building was completed two years later.
The result was a modular building with various levels that blends into its surroundings and that has a pre-Hispanic architectural feel. The various green slopes or ramps form an integral part of the composition, establishing the building’s link to Chapultepec Park, creating the impression that the museum rises up from the earth.
In 1982 the building received the National Prize for Arts and Sciences (Fine Arts category) for its characteristic design features, together with its plastic and functional solutions.
With the sponsorship of Grupo Alfa and the Fundación Cultural Televisa, the Museo Tamayo was inaugurated on May 29, 1981. Five years later the museum became owned by the state and operated by the INBA, with a reinauguration held on September 9, 1986.
Since 1994, it became apparent that the building would need to be adapted to meet its needs for space and to become a cultural institution for a more demanding and participative audience. The project called for the museum to increase its offer of educational and cultural programs, as well as to add a gift shop and cafeteria in order to complement the increased range of cultural activities. However, the 1994 project never got off the ground.
The shop and cafeteria were added in improvised spaces in the 1990s. Since 2001, the shop and cafeteria have been located in various parts of the building—even one of the exhibition galleries was even sacrificed for a period in order to free up space for these services.
In 2009, the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (Conaculta), the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) and the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo, A.C. (FORT) developed the idea of the expansion project in order to maintain Rufino Tamayo’s cutting-edge spirit. To this end, the three parties signed a collaboration agreement in which they agreed to set up a mixed trust worth 84 million pesos.
It was also agreed that FORT would implement the project and it invited three construction companies to submit proposals. The firm called Arquitech was chosen on the basis of its construction proposal and the quality of its work and its parent company, WINCO. The architect Teodoro González de León was again commissioned for the extension and remodeling design.
On June 16, 2011, the stone-laying ceremony was held in the presence of Consuelo Sáizar, President of Conaculta; Teresa Vicencio, Director of the INBA; David Cohen, Chairman of FORT; Carmen Cuenca, Director of the Museo Tamayo and Teodoro González de León, the project’s architect, as well as Marcelo Ebrard, Head of the Mexico City Government and other government representatives, patrons and members of FORT.
On August 7, 2011 the museum was closed to the public and the necessary measures were taken to finally begin the works that concluded in June 2012.
Rufino Tamayo was always interested in the enclosure that housed his art collection being within the first section of Chapultepec Forest. The local government authorized the transfer of a piece of forest land, where the Aztec golf course was previously located. It was then that the artist summoned Mexican architects Teodoro González de León and Abraham Zabludovsky for the building project, which would become another piece of the collection.
The design began in 1972, while construction began until 1979 and concluded two years later, in 1981. The result is a building that earned them the National Prize for Science and Arts, under the heading “Fine Arts”, in 1982. Considered as one of the few examples in Mexico of contemporary architecture destined from its original project to the museum work, the building is harmoniously incorporated into the environment thanks to its pyramidal shape, which refers to the pre-Hispanic architectural heritage.
The building is not a body that invades the forest, but is integrated into the surrounding terrain by virtue of its multi-level structure, which concentrates on itself in blind volumes of concrete staggered towards the center, which, being disguised, They give the feeling that the building sprouts from the ground. To achieve this, the architects incorporated slopes with vegetation, which are a fundamental part of the composition of the building and establish the primary relationship with the Chapultepec Forest. In the construction of the building, mainly, concrete reinforced with white marble stones was used, as well as glass and wood for the floors. Special attention was paid to the design of the interior spaces that, illuminated with natural and artificial light, create different atmospheres that intensify the visitor’s relationship with the works of art.
Although in 1994 a project was made to provide the building with adequate spaces for cultural and educational programs, it was not until 2009 that it was decided to carry out the expansion by the National Institute of Fine Arts, the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA) and the Olga y Rufino Tamayo Foundation, AC
After more than 30 years of life, the Tamayo Museum closed its doors for a year (August, 2011 – August, 2012) for its remodeling and architectural expansion, Teodoro González de León, one of the original authors of the building, was in charge of the project. The building grew by 30%, preserving its emblematic shape and aesthetics, with new and remodeled spaces and facilities to offer more exhibitions, facilities and offer of activities. On August 21, President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa reopened the museum.
The museum has exhibition halls, an educational room where workshops and pedagogical activities are carried out, an auditorium, a documentation center, a restaurant and shop.
The museum’s collection is divided into two sets: the modern fund, gathered mostly by Olga and Rufino Tamayo, and a contemporary fund that emerged in the 1990s and continues to grow, thanks to donations from artists who have already exhibited in the museum. works created ex profeso.
The modern background is striking for the list of great authors represented: Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Francis Bacon, Jean Dubuffet, Fernand Léger, Wifredo Lam, Pierre Soulages, Frank Auerbach, Alexander Calder, Eduardo Chillida, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Josep Guinovart, Barbara Hepworth, Hans Hartung, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, René Magritte,Manolo Millares, Robert Motherwell, Georgia O’Keeffe, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mark Rothko, Antoni Tàpies, Joaquín Torres García, Victor Vasarely, Andy Warhol…