Saturday, April 01, 2006

Muros Cultural Center, Cuernavaca, Mexico

It's always refreshing to hear a "corporate good guys" story like the one I came across during my latest stay in Cuernavaca, Mexico. While there, I had a chance to visit the new Muros Cultural Center which stands on property owned by the local Costco and another company called Comercial Mexicana. These two giant corporations joined together to buy an abandoned old casino and hotel, the Casino de la Selva, built in the early 1930's. They tore down the dilapidated complex in 2001 and replaced it with the Muros building, which is now home to the Natasha Gelman Collection of Modern and Contemporary Mexican Art.

Inside the hotel were some spectacular murals depicting Mexico's history from pre-Hispanic times to the mid 20th-century. The damaged paintings were stripped from the walls using an Italian method called strappo and then reapplied to the ceiling of the new Hall of Murals in the Muros building, where they are currently being restored. On display on the center's upper floor are paintings by the likes of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamyao. There are also prints by well-known Mexican photographers such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Tina Modotti. Avant-garde installations plus other works by contemporary Mexican artists occupy the main floor. In all, there are over 300 works of art in the collection, and it continues to grow.

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