It’s official: I’ve discovered my favorite place in Mexico City: the Murales de Diego Rivera en la Secretaria de Educacion Publica-Diego Rivera’s murals in the Secretary of Education building.
Full disclosure: I am a hopeless romantic. I recently read someplace that Frida Khalo, a young art student learned that Diego Rivera, famous artist, was painting murals at the Secretary of Education. A budding artist, she brought some of her work to him at the Secretary of Education and asked for his opinion: “you’ve got talent,” was his truthful reply. Two marriages and a lifelong love affair later, the love hate relationship of Khalo and Rivera lives on, along with the beautiful inspired work they created.
The Secretary of Education building is located in the oldest part of Mexico City, El Centro. Free to the public and open on weekdays until 6:00 PM, more than 100 murals are on display. These murals represent some of Rivera’s early work. Surprisingly, these murals are on outside of an open air courtyard. Having lived in the midwestern United States for most of my life, I was amazed at how well preserved these murals are, given their proximity to the elements (it rains all summer in Mexico City).
I am adding the Secretary of Education to my “DF Must See” list. The building has low traffic, and is a wonderful place to experience the genius of Diego Rivera, uninterrupted. There weren’t many people at the building, and the security was friendly and non-intrusive.
Unfortunately, just as I was leaving, a docent named, “Raul” introduced himself to me and offered me a free tour in English. I had spent two hours viewing the murals and watching a performance by some school children, so I politely declined. However, I’d highly recommend asking for him if you decided to visit.
Rivera worked on the murals for six straight years. There are three floors of murals to view. We started at the top (3rd) floor and worked our way down. The murals on the bottom are older than the ones on top—so if you’re a stickler for sequence, you’ll want to be mindful of that when deciding to start at the top or bottom.The murals depict stories labor, the arts, traditional life in Mexico (Dia De Los Muertos, the harvest, parties, etc.), and an hommage to the various federal entities of Mexico. My favorite mural: a piece that points an accusatory finger at the greed and excess exhibited on Wall Street–a relevant theme almost 100 years later!