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Enjoying Art in Merida, Mexico

The pretty, colonial city of Mérida, Mexico, is full of art. Unfortunately, unlike some other smaller towns in the Yucatan peninsula, this isn’t apparent on first view from the streets. That is to say, there isn’t much street art about. Nonetheless, there are several places to enjoy art in Mérida. Here are a few of the best.

MACAY

This museum of contemporary art housed in a 16th-century government building has a constantly changing outdoor sculpture exhibition in its entrance passage, and includes a well-curated collection of post-colonial Yucatecan, Mexican, and international art. It’s one of the biggest art museums in Mérida, so come with some time to spare, and soak it all in. The café and garden on the ground floor are also worth checking out; the former for its excellent coffee and the latter for its beautifully cared-for local flora.

Museo Casa Montejo

This former mansion for the Montejo family, one of the oldest and wealthiest colonial families to settle in Mérida from Spain, is now partly a museum. With a collection of opulent and somewhat mismatching Victorian and neo-renaissance antique furniture, paintings, ornaments, and miscellany, this small museum will give you a small glimpse into how the upper class lived back in Mexico’s colonial days.

Fundación de Artistas

A somewhat hidden but very welcome find, this gallery set around a courtyard café is run by a non-profit organisation whose aim is to connect the public and working artists. There are constantly changing free exhibitions with works by Yucatecan artists in the rundown and delightfully hipster gallery spaces, as well as occasional live musical or dramatic events taking place inside the courtyard.

Palacio del Gobierno

Right on Mérida’s main square, this imposing colonial building is home to the city council, but is also open to the public and contains some enormous works of art adorning its walls. Mostly depicting Mayan creation myths, the Spanish colonisation, and injustices perpetrated against the indigenous people, these huge and unique murals are worth checking out; not only for their visual appeal, but also to learn more about the history of the region.

Palacio Cantón

The 20th-century building that houses this museum is particularly noteworthy for its Baroque-Mannerist architecture, which may be one of the city’s finest examples of such design that is also easily accessible to the public. The permanent exhibition within goes right back 4,000 years in the past to detail the history of humankind on the Yucatan Peninsula, with ancient jewellery, earthenware, carvings, ceramics, and sculptures on display. There is also a space for changing, contemporary exhibitions upstairs, which vary from photography to tattoo design.

If you’re planning a visit to Mérida, I can highly recommend the small, comfortable, and centrally-located guesthouse Luz en Yucatan as a place to stay. With its own pool, helpful staff, and large, quiet rooms, it’s an excellent place to spend a few days in the city. Besides that, check out all the cool other free things to do in town as well as where to find the best vegan eats in Mérida.

Have you ever been to Mérida? If so, what’d you think? If not, would you like to go? Any suggestions for things to see and do? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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