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09.04.2009

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 El Chopo University Museum
Santa María La Ribera / Images of Santa Maria La Ribera / Other attractions

Address: Dr. Enrique González Martínez No. 10
Subway: San Cosme y Revolución
Nowadays closed because of remodelation.
 

The ‘El Chopo’ University Museum occupies one of the most original and emblematic spaces in Mexico City: the old building of the Natural History Museum, which is one of the most paradigmatic spaces in the history of the city due to its technical and aesthetical characteristics.

The building’s history begins in 1902 when it was built by the Guttehoffnungshütte metallurgical company for its participation in the Exhibition of Industrial Art of Düsselorf, Germany. That same year, the Mexican entrepreneur José Landero y Cos, decided to buy said pavilion to create an exhibition room for industrial products. For this, the building’s steel pieces were transported on a ship to the city of Veracruz, and then by railroad on to a plot of land that the entrepreneur owned in the up and coming area of Santa María la Ribera, near the train terminal of Buenavista. The assembling process of the building took place between 1903 and 1905, in the hands of the architect Hugo Dorner and the engineers Luis Bacmeister and Aurelio Ruelas. Years later, in 1910, the building’s structure was used to house the Japanese Pavilion of the Universal Exhibition of México, which was celebrated as part of the 100th anniversary of Mexico’s Independence. It was in this time when the building was known as the Crystal Palace, so called because the building was supported by steel beams and columns and a large part of it was covered by large windows, much in the same way as the Crystal Palace in the London Exhibition of 1851.

In 1913 this building was turned into the Natural History Museum, which it housed for several decades until, in 1963, the Museum was transferred to its actual location in the second section of Chapultepec. As a result of this, the building entered a period of such decay, that even its dismantling and sale were considered. Fortunately, the National Autonomous University of Mexico decided to rescue the building in 1973, and after a series of extensions and adjustments, it was inaugurated on November 25th 1975 as the ‘El Chopo’ University Museum which remains open to this day.

Apart from the architectural wealth it conserves, this museum is also characterized by the great number of activities that take place in it, indulging the popular manifestations of urban culture with exhibitions, workshops and even Mexican rock concerts all of which have turned this space in an authentic forum for the expression of modern tendencies in the city. On weekends the ‘El Chopo’ market settles around the museum; a meeting place for darks, punks and Goths alike, they can meet people with similar interests and acquire or exchange clothes and other items. The ‘El Chopo’ University Museum houses a film room, a sound gallery, a cafeteria and several exhibition rooms. Today, as part of the rescue and renovation process for the central areas of Mexico City, specifically for Santa María la Ribera, this museum is being renovated by the internationally recognized Mexican architect Enrique Norten, through a project in which the exhibition space will grow considerably and in which the place will be granted several additional services, which will turn the ‘El Chopo’ University Museum into one of the most outstanding centers for contemporary art in America. This museum will be re-inaugurated in the year 2007.

 

 



 

 

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