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The Museo Rufino Tamayo, today known as the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, in Chapultepec Park, regularly produces some of the most important contemporary art exhibitions seen in the city. Drawing on a significant historical collection of modern and contemporary art, the museum also draws from works collected by its founder, the artist, Rufino Tamayo.
The first major museum in Mexico built with private funds, the Tamayo has been run by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) since 1986.
Rufino Tamayo, born in Oaxaca in 1899, began to collect artwork in the 1960s with the stated intent of providing more 20th-century art to the Mexican people. Focused mostly on the latter half of the 20th century, the museum has grown through donations from artists and through the acquisitions fund of the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo (FORT).
Beloved for it’s late mid-century modern feel, the museum is actually based more closely on pre-Hispanic influences. Originally designed in 1972, architects Abraham Zabludovsky and Teodoro González de León have both been discussed here in the description of much later work on the MUAC museum. After many years of delays, construction began in 1979 and took two years.
The resulting modular, multi-level building blends into its surroundings and integrates perfectly with Chapultepec Park. Major reconstruction concluded only in June 2012.
Now running annual exhibitions just from the collection, and which hang for up to a year the most recent have included works by Joan Miró, Louise Nevelson, and George Seagal. Many of the works are today considered either of “late modernism” or of a transitional period somewhere between modern and contemporary art.
The museum recognized that towards the end of the 1980s and the beginnings of the 90s, a redefinition of contemporary art began to blur the lines “between traditional mediums (painting, sculpture, drawing, etching) and to introduce new mediums, such as installation, assemblage, photography, video and cinema.”
A new line for the museum collection was drawn and the museum shifted toward acquiring works now referred to as contemporary art.