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Building Community
Building a New Museum

The Mexican Museum is the realization of Peter Rodríguez's vision to form an organization that would “promote the rich culture of Mexico and the Mexican-Americans”. Over the years, the museum’s vision expanded to reflect the evolving scope of the Mexican, Chicano, Hispanic, Mexican-American, and Latino experience. Mr. Rodriguez’s goals were: “To obtain a permanent center to display and preserve this culture and continue to enlarge the collection. To serve as an educational center by reaching out to the community and disseminating this knowledge”. (Quotes from a flyer or press release by The Mexican Museum, then located at 940 Bay Street - #2 in San Francisco, describing its background, purpose, and goals ca. 1975).

Today, The Mexican Museum is undergoing a process of reconfiguration that will not only result in an expansion of its galleries but also in a transformation of its museological concept. The museum is preparing for a move to its permanent home in Yerba Buena Gardens. This thriving downtown neighborhood is the region’s most exciting arts and cultural district, and The Mexican Museum will be proudly located at the corner of Mission and 3rd Streets (706 Mission Street) with frontage onto Jesse Square, a premiere public space that flows directly into the museum.

Through a public/ private partnership between The Mexican Museum, the City and County of San Francisco, and the developer, Millennium Partners, the museum is at the threshold of achieving a bold and profound vision that was initiated by its founders in the 1970s. The new museum will be a space that is accessible, transparent, and focused on providing diverse communities with educational events and enjoyable experiences through art and culture of Mexican and Latin American origin, understood in all of its dynamics and permanence, and transcending the notion of borders.

Significance of
San Francisco Location

The Mexican Museum is a continuum of the rich and powerful artistic legacy of the Mission District. This specific barrio is one of the most important locations of what was termed the Chicano Mural Movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. Initially, dismissed and rejected as a valid art form and movement, this movement has changed the concept, landscape, and vitality of artistic creation in this society.


California is the most powerful location of this movement. Two other locations, East Los Angeles, and Barrio Logan in San Diego are central to this important national cultural legacy. This ‘rejected art form’, by the early 1980s became accepted, gradually in non- barrio locations and cities far from California’s two main barrios. By the mid-1980s and since that period, virtually every city has public art, murals, both sanctioned and renegade.In essence, the Chicano Mural movement changed the world. Cities throughout the US rapidly supported public art, which did not exist prior to this era.


It also signaled a substantial increase in, at that era termed Chicano artistic expression, in a range of mediums, oil, acrylic, photography, ceramics, sculpture and performance art. By the 1980s, many Chicano muralists were contracted to create murals in cities throughout the U.S.


The Mexican Museum in San Francisco fundamentally changes the artistic landscape for Latino art in the U.S. and permanently anchors California as the international center for this art form through the next century. It is the culmination of a half century of Mexican, Chicano, Latino artistic creativity in which barrios in California remain powerful cultural spaces. The Museum also expands far beyond works from the Latino experience and includes Afro-Latino, Caribbean, Central and South American works of art that express a rich cultural intersection of diverse identities. The Mission District is a significant cultural and historical location of this legacy.

The Mexican Museum
Project Highlights

  • 60,000 square foot state-of-the-art museum with four levels of programming space and two floors of dedicated gallery space will allow the Museum to exhibit much of its 16,500 piece collection plus international traveling exhibitions.

  • Educational rooms and space for lectures and seminars, which will extend a significant contribution to the region’s and national cultural legacy.

  • In terms of scale, gallery and exhibition space, location and financial commitments, no other institution compares to this venue.

  • Afford auxiliary spaces for a Museum store, restaurant and other earned income programs.

  • Completes the vision for significant cultural institution Jessie Square Plaza, and the Yerba Buena Gardens Arts and Cultural District, a world-class cultural destination.

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