Art In Oaxaca - Our Guide To The Best Galleries & Museums

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It was love at first site when Luke and I arrived in Oaxaca five years ago; it was a combination of the historical buildings, the rich cuisine, the multitude of local textiles and the graphic art scene that stole our hearts.

Renown artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Rodolfo Morales and Francisco Toledo have contributed to the growth of the art scene not only through their artistic work but in establishing multiple art institutions that house events, exhibitions and workshops for emerging and established talents.

Oaxaca is bubbling over with creativity, offering a dense concentration of talent. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite galleries and museums in and around Oaxaca (in absolutely no particular order).

Centro de las Arte de San Agustin (CASA)

Why We Love It: CASA plays host to the best local and international artists across multiple disciplines not to mention the ridiculously beautiful architecture and surrounding countryside.

How To Get There: CASA is located 20-30 drive from Oaxaca Centro. Take a collectivo from Central de Abastos $15 MXP. Or private taxi from Centro for around $80-100 MXP one way.

Cost: Free

Fun Fact: The building was originally a textile mill from 1883 until the 1980’s. Acquired by local artist Fransico Toledo who launched the space in 2006, creating the first ecological art space in Latin America dedicated to workshops, events and art experimentation.

Go There: If you’re looking for a nice day trip off the tourist path.

For more information click here


Pasaporte de Grafico

Why We Love It: The graphic art scene in Oaxaca was one of the main contributors to why we first fell in love with this historic town. With Zapoteca inspired art plastered over walls all around town it’s hard not to be swept up by the passion and creativity on display. The local artists are always happy to explain to you the printing process behind their work.

How To Get There: There are twelve independent galleries/workshops scattered around Centro. You can start from any of galleries in the link below.

Cost: Free

Fun Fact: The graphic art scene has emerged as a political voice during the 2006 protests, when striking teachers demanding better education, were met with state controlled violence.

Go There: To gain a deep appreciation of the contemporary Oaxacan art scene.

For more info click here


Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca (MACO)

Why We Love It: Where contemporary meets tradition - an important theme that runs through the exhibitions on display and throughout Oaxaca as a whole.

The perfect blend of contemporary and traditional art,

not to mention another breathtaking historical building.

How To Get There: Situated in the heart of Oaxaca on Calle Macedonio Alcalá

Cost: $20 MXN

Fun Fact: Another one of Francisco Toledo’s creative endeavours , transforming one of the oldest buildings in the city into a hub of creativity. They also host a bunch of cool kids activities. Check out the website below for upcoming activities.

Go There: To immerse yourself in some art and culture and to escape the busy streets.

For more info click here


Centro Fotográfico Álvarez Bravo

Why We Love It: World class exhibitions and workshops, amazing architecture and a cult cinema night. Plus an enviable cactus collection in the main courtyard.

How To Get There: An easy walk from anywhere around centro, on the corner of Manuel Bravo and Garcia Vigil.

Cost: Free

Fun Fact: You’re in good company here: named after Mexican artist Manuel Álvarez Bravo who became popular through his documentation of the rise of a post-revolutionary modern culture in his native Mexico, including several portraits of Frida Kahlo. In addition to it’s impressive namesake, CFAB hosted many workshops by Magnum photographer Mary Ellen Mark (Luke’s personal hero).

Go There: If you’re interested in photography or simply pop your head in to marvel at the architecture.

For more info click here

Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca

Why We Love It: Connected to our absolute favourite library in town (in the world even!) which hosts one of Latin America’s most important graphic art libraries, as well as pretty much any other art/photography or textile book you could ever dream of!

How To Get There: Situated in the heart of town

Cost: Free

Fun Fact: Another institution founded by Oaxacan artist Francisco Toledo, hosting a collection of 124,000 artworks, 80,000 photographs, and 22,000 books. Seriously you could spend a lifetime here!

Go There: For some quiet time, to work or to immerse yourself in the impressive collection of art and design books.

For more info click here


Museo Textil de Oaxaca

Why We Love It: Um, hello - everything textiles!!! Plus the building itself is stunning

How To Get There: Situated in the heart of town

Cost: Free

Fun Fact: A stunning 18th Century mansion that holds around 5000 Oaxacan and international textile pieces. Conservation is an important role of the museum as they hold pieces that are up to 5000 years old.

Go There: If you want to learn more about the multitude of textiles from the region

For more info click here


Biblioteca Juan de Córdova

Why We Love It: Offering a wide variation of exhibitions and talks, plus we love the amazing workspace located on the upper levels.

How To Get There: Situated in the heart of town, close to Museo Textil de Oaxaca

Cost: Free

Fun Fact: Previously the building was a 16th Century Dominican Convent which happened to be built on top of the oldest pre-hispanic site in Oaxaca.

Go There: If you can’t get enough of the museums and galleries Oaxaca has to offer.

For more info click here


Museo de Arte Prehispánico de México Rufino Tamayo

Why We Love It: Beautifully curated selection of Pre Hispanic pieces, amazing architecture and display and a modern focus.

How To Get There: Situated in the centre of town

Cost: MXN$90 foreigner (MXN$35 pesos on Sunday’s)

Fun Fact: Tamayo always said that he wanted to create an art museum, not an archeology museum, specifically dedicated to young artists.

Go There: To be amazed by this beautifully curated collection of hispanic art .

For more info click here


Museo de Filatelia de Oaxaca

Why We Love It: Ok, so a stamp museum doesn’t sound super exciting, but the building itself is absolutely stunning with some impressive cacti on show. And to be honest it was far more entertaining than expected.

How To Get There: Situated in the centre of town

Cost: Free

Fun Fact: They have a collection of letters from Frida.

Go There: To get some great snap of the cactus garden… and if you’re really into stamps.

For more info click here


Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca

Why We Love It: Two words: Turquoise Skull. Part of the impressive collection of treasures uncovered from one of the tombs from nearby Monte Alban.

How To Get There: Next to Santo Domingo, smack bang in the centre of town (a great place to people watch)

Cost: $70 MXP (free on Sundays!)

Fun Fact: Located within an old monastery building connected to the grand Santo Domingo, it has now been declared a place of cultural heritage of humanity by the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization.

Go There: To learn about the rich history of Oaxaca - a must for anyone visiting.

For more info click here

All images courtesy of Luke Della Santa unless stated otherwise