“Ciudad Universitaria is the main campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the largest university in Latin America (300,000 students), responsible for tuning the minds of those who have gone out to shape the country (three Mexican Nobel laureates — Alfonso García Robles in 1982 for peace, Octavio Paz in 1990 for literature and Mario Molina in 1995 for chemistry — are graduates). Since 2005, the UNAM has been ranked as the best university in Latin America, Spain and Portugal.” (Kurt Hollander, The New York Times, January 27th. 2008)
The impressive new building, which is a long awaited addition to the University’s Cultural Center, was designed by internationally renowned Mexican Architect Teodoro González de León, following the National University’s tradition for architectural excellence (the Campus was declared World Heritage in 2007).
The architectural program was created in response to ground-breaking concepts in museological thought put forth by the Museum’s founding Director, Graciela de la Torre, that advocate a new paradigm for the liberation of cultural patterns in Latin American exhibition practice, while stressing the difficulties of “creating” a museum for the third millennium.
Embedded in the volcanic lava landscape that characterizes this area in the deep South of Mexico City, the handsome 13,000 M2 two-story building is divided into three basic sections: the generous exhibition galleries in the west wing are on the same level as the remarkable plaza that leads to the concert hall and theatres of the Cultural Center. The entire east wing, connected on both levels by a magnificent staircase, will be devoted to public services (mostly free of charge), such as the Agora/education-learning space, the experimental Sound Site, the auditorium and conference hall, the newly created Arkheia documentation center, the museum shop and cafeteria/restaurant. Beneath the exhibition area, the museum holds state-of-the-art technical installations designed both for temporary loans and the permanent Collection.
While the UNAM has always played a prominent role in Mexican culture, it was not until 2003 that the decisive visibility of Mexican Contemporary Art in the global scene provided the necessary impulse for the construction of a new facility to undertake the responsibility of expanding the Mexican public’s knowledge of both the local and international contemporary visual arts practice. In the process of planning the building and designing the programs, the UNAM also enrolled in the construction of Mexico’s first comprehensive public contemporary art collection.
Following a proposal authored by Olivier Debroise, the MUAC created an acquisitions program for the Collection that covers a broad historical spectrum, beginning with works rescued from the time of the construction of the Campus in 1952. This ongoing project brings together not only a survey of the fragmented tendencies of the last 50 years of Mexican production – it has also established a permanent agreement with two of Mexico’s most respected international collectors – the Corpus Group and the Charpenel Collections – to enhance the dialogue with global experience.
The MUAC’s curatorial program will consist of two yearly cycles of temporary exhibitions, essentially grounded on the results of a continuous seminar that includes academics and specialists in discussion with the Museum’s newly appointed curatorial team – Guillermo Santamarina and José Luis Barrios – who will work in tandem to cover both the experimental and documental aspects of the Museum’s contents.
The opening artistic statements – to be revealed shortly – include an impressive roster of local and international artists, solidly put together in four extremely potent and controversial exhibitions.
MUSEO UNIVERSITARIO ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO – MUAC
Circuito Mario de la Cueva s/n
Centro Cultural Universitario
Mexico, D.F. 04000