The international capital for museums, Mexico City claims to have more than anywhere else in the world. In the heart of the city’s Coyoacán neighborhood sits one of its most popular attractions: painter Frida Kahlo’s former residence, known now as the Frida Kahlo Museum. The property has morphed from Kahlo’s childhood house to martial home and finally the Frida Kahlo museum upon her passing. For the art and history buff alike, an afternoon at the museum is a wonderful way to step back in time and glimpse into the life of a brilliant mind.
Even for a vibrant neighborhood full of impressive estates, the museum stands out with its shock of indigo walls — earning the name of Casa Azul. Inside, the exhibits are less about Kahlo’s iconic self-portraits and more about the story of the artist as a woman. With photos and sketches in the first rooms, visitors will come to learn about her life and relationship with fellow painter and famed muralist Diego Rivera within minutes of entering. Next, peruse personal items like a crochet blanket on Kahlo’s bed, and paints and brushes on a wooden desk by the mirror that she used to hone her self-portraits.
The interiors are just as bright as the exterior. Cabinets, wooden chairs, and the floor itself pop with bright yellow paint, while blue tiling adds accent and sunlight streams through the windows above. Clay dots — painted to match the colors of the Mexican flag — spell out the names “Frida” and “Diego.” Also fun to note: The layout of the museum is nearly identical to when Kahlo and Rivera occupied the compound.
But the experience is far from over. Once you’ve made your way though the house, the garden awaits. Stone-carved statues stand as relics to the indigenous culture and art that Kahlo and Rivera sought to support and embrace. Green plants shoot and spout across the sprawling yard, linked together with cobblestone pathways and quotes that speak to the couple’s love affair. Don’t miss the separate building in the back that houses garments from Kahlo’s wardrobe, from traditional blouses and elaborate headpieces to the leather body braces she wore to stabilize herself — the artist had to learn to live with disabilities brought on by a bout of polio and traumatic car accident.
You don’t have to know much about the artist — not about her iconic paintings nor the ups and downs of her marriage — to feel the creative pulse running through the house, and to leave feeling like you were visiting a friend. Entry is 55 pesos (about $3.59), and there’s an additional nominal fee if you want to take photos.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays & Thursday through Sundays; closed Mondays.
And for those in the New York City area, the New York Botanical Garden is presenting a special FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life exhibit through November 1. On display are a dozen rare paintings and works on paper done by Kahlo, in addition to a recreation of the artist’s garden and Casa Azul. Tickets are $20.