Mexico City: Folk art skeletons, devils, and more at Museo de Arte Popular


April 03, 2020

Skeletons may be macabre to American eyes, but they’re a popular motif in Mexican folk art, as we saw at the Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Folk Art) in Mexico City. Housed in an Art Deco building in the historic center, the museum is perfectly sized to see everything in a couple of hours, and it also operates a very nice gift shop of regional handicrafts.

Día de Muertos art

Here in Austin, we’ve adopted Mexico’s joyful Day of the Dead celebration. So folk-art skeletons enjoying everyday activities aren’t unfamiliar to me. This well-attended skeleton bullfight (above) was a surprise though.

Check out the feast table for this convivial group of skeletons.

And how can you not love this guy’s exuberance? Does he remind you of Coco?

These skeleton miners are hard at work…

…mining for skulls.

These clay skeleton women are beautiful if a little creepy. Check out the “hand”lesticks!

There’s a lot going on here, but it looks like a party.

Animal masks

When your inner leopard comes out.


They say the devil is in the details.

One whole room of horned devils offers an up-close look at the details.


Beautiful alebrijes — fantastical folk-art creatures — are nicely displayed too. Notice the paper cacti and agaves making a subtle, regionally appropriate backdrop.

Huichol beadwork

In the lobby we marveled over an elaborately beaded VW Beetle.

Every inch of the car’s exterior is mosaicked in tiny beads, even the hubcaps!


In the museum’s soaring atrium, colorful kites glow like stained glass and seem to float up into the sky.

Next up: A creative botanical garden at Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City’s enormous central park. For a look back at the ancient Teotihuacán pyramids, click here.

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Mexico City: Day trip to Teotihuacán pyramids


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