The Museo Soumaya houses one of the most important art collections in Latin America with over 6,200 artworks and 60,000 square feet of exhibition space.
From the outside, The Museo Soumaya is an organic and asymmetrical shape that is perceived differently by each visitor, while reflecting the diversity of the collection on the inside. Its heterogeneous collection is housed in a continuous exhibition space spread over six levels, representing approximately 60,000 ft². The building also includes an auditorium for 350 people, library, offices, a restaurant, a gift shop and a multi-purpose gathering lounge.
Designed by FREE Fernando Romero EnterprisE, this anvil-shaped museum with a windowless facade composed of hexagonal aluminium tiles is constructed of 28 steel curved columns with different diameters and geometries, which lend it its irregular form. The building widens at the top, where a roof suspended from a cantilever allows natural daylight onto the top floor gallery.
The Soumaya Museum is located in a former industrial zone dating from the 1940’s which today presents a very high commercial potential. The Soumaya Museum plays a key role in the reconversion of the area: as a preeminent cultural program, it acts as an initiator in the transformation of the urban perception. Its avant-garde morphology and typology define a new paradigm in the history of Mexican and international architecture.
The shell of the building is constructed with 28 steel curved columns of different diameters, each with its own geometry and shape, offering the visitor a soft non-linear circulation all through the building. Located at each floor level, seven ring beams provide a system that braces the structure and guarantees its stability. The top floor is the most generous space of the museum; its roof is suspended from an impressive cantilever that allows natural daylight to flow in freely. In contrast, the building’s envelope is nearly opaque, offering little and scarce openings to the outside. This gesture can be interpreted as an intention to create a protected shelter for the art collection. The façade is made of hexagonal aluminum modules that optimize the preservation and durability of the entire building.
“The Museo Soumaya is an extraordinary structure rising up from the earth’s crust as a multi-dimensional icon,” Raymund Ryan, Curator, The Heinz Architectural Center.
The Museo Soumaya is owned by the Carlos Slim Foundation and contains the extensive art, religious relics, historical documents, and coin collection of Carlos Slim and his late wife Soumaya, after whom the museum was named. Carlos Slim bought a large number of sculptures by Rodin in the 1980s while their value was at a low ebb. The values of many pieces he bought for the collection have soared since then. Some critics have claimed that Slim valued quantity over quality when amassing his collection, however. In Mexican art circles, it is said, perhaps apocryphally, that he has calculated the average cost per kilogram of Rodin’s works.
The museum holds works by many of the best known European artists from the 15th to the 20th century. It contains a large collection of casts of sculptures by Auguste Rodin. The Museo Soumaya opened to the public on March 29, 2011 after four years of development.
Location: Lago Zurich # 245, Col. Ampliación Granada, Del. Miguel Hidalgo. México DF. C.P. 11320
Completion: March 2011
Client/Owner: Fundación Carlos Slim
Architect Office: FREE Fernando Romero EnterprisE
General Contractor: CARSO Infraestructura y Contrucción
Interior Design: FREE + MYT/ CEO-Andrés Mier y Teran