You'll likely be surprised to know that San Francisco houses the largest collection of Mexican and Latino art in the nation, but that's because the small building that used to house The Mexican Museum near Fort Mason wasn't large enough to display the thousands of artworks carefully curated over the past three decades.
Founded in 1975 by Mexican-American artist Peter Rodriguez, The Mexican Museum currently owns more than 16,000 Mexican and Latino works of art, ranging from pre-Columbian paintings to contemporary sculptures and textiles to masterpieces by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The often overlooked museum started out as a small Mission District storefront, before moving to their site in the Fort Mason area. Most of the artwork is currently in storage because there's no room to display it.
After years of fundraising, the collection is finally getting the attention it deserves with a large permanent home at Yerba Buena, where the impressive artworks will have plenty of room to shine. At its new location in Jessie Square, The Mexican Museum will occupy the first four floors of a 510-foot luxury condo tower and sit next to the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the historic St. Patrick Church. The new 60,000-square-foot space is set to open in spring 2019. Unfortunately, Rodriguez – who died on July 1 at age 90 – won't get to see the fruits of his labor.
Andrew Kluger, who became the museum board's chairman 2011, helped secure the $30 million it needed for the building. Kluger hopes it will serve as an educational tool for those removed from their Latin American roots. "The new museum will allow us to educate second- and third-generation Chicano, Latino children about their heritage, which is quite important because many of them don't know about it," Kluger told the Associated Press.
The museum's first exhibit in the new space will be "Frida and I," an exhibition about Frida Kahlo's life geared toward children.