Oaxaca’s Contemporary Art Museum, known as MACO, is housed in a handsome colonial mansion on Macedonio Alcala between Murguia and Morelos streets. This museum is a perfect stop for those who want to learn about art and architecture on their Mexico vacation.
Built at the end of the 17th century and beginning of the 18th, MACO is one of the oldest buildings in the city and a fine example of civil Oaxaca architecture of the colonial period. The house is commonly referred to as “La casa de Cortes” (the house of Cortez) although the conquistador Hernan Cortez never actually lived in Oaxaca and its construction dates to after his death.
Although the building has undergone modifications through several different restoration projects, the latest in 2010, it maintains its colonial floor plan with rooms surrounding three patios. The facade of green quarry stone is particularly beautiful.
Take note of the figure of Saint Michael the Archangel, as well as the ironwork on the balconies and windows— this is some of the oldest original wrought iron in the Oaxaca. The seal above the door shows the family crest of the Lazo de la Vega and Pinelo families, the original proprietors.
For many years this building functioned as a home and business, but in 1986 it was acquired by the government and initially housed the Museo Historico Urbano de Oaxaca. In 1992, at the initiative of Oaxacan painter Francisco Toledo, and with the approval of the state government, it was transformed into the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca. The museum has several permanent exhibit rooms featuring work by Oaxacan artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Rodolfo Morales and Francisco Toledo. It also hosts temporary exhibits throughout the year.
A visit to the MACO will allow you to not only enjoy the work of contemporary Oaxacan and international artists, but also to appreciate colonial Oaxaca architecture. The museum is open Wednesday through Monday from 10:30AM to 8PM; closed on Tuesdays.