Palacio Nacional: Diego Rivera’s Murals

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It is a Must See! Definitely! Whenever you are in Mexico City you have to visit the murals of Diego Rivera at the National Palace. At the time Rivera began painting these murals he was an internationally known artist with his works reproduced in magazines worldwide. During his painting of them, his work was interrupted several times because he left Mexico City to paint other murals in his country as well as in the United States.

The famous Mexican artist and husband of Frida Kahlo tended to glorify the Indian heritage of his country. Large public murals like these which glorified the Mexican people provided an alternate history for those who could not read it in books. The government at the time was seeking to redefine the nation and Rivera’s murals could help in creating a new national identity.

The Stairway Mural

Diego Rivera began painting the staircase murals in the Palacio Nacional in May 1929 and finished these staircase murals by November of 1935. The stairway „triptych“ is sometimes compared to an epic poem comprising the legendary pre-hispanic past, a kind of prologue, then the depiction in the central panels of the Conquest up until 1930, and on the left, the present, with all its conflicts, but also with the promise of a better future.

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The Corridor Panels

Rivera returned in the 1940’s to work on the corridor murals. This series of smaller panels was intended to go all the way round the second story, but this project was never completed and Rivera was unable to work on this project continuously.

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The last mural (completed in 1951) shows the arrival of the Spanish, with satirical portraits of Cortés and the other Conquistadors. He also includes an image of La Malinche bearing the blue-eyed baby sired by Cortés.

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Palacio Nacional
Plaza de la Constitución S/N
Centro, Cuauhtémoc
06066 Ciudad de México, CDMX

Open only on work days from 9 am to 5 pm.

Entry is free.

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