Maricela Salinas, the only woman director of three collections at the Museo de Arte de Mexicanas Indias

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and More: Visiting Mexico City’s House Museums (Photo credit: Andrew Burton)

“We all have our favorites,” said Maricela Salinas, a retired museum curator, as she watched people walk by on the sidewalk of a quiet downtown corner. She stopped to speak with a friend.

“So we should go visit the Alhambra, the Mezcala, the Palace of the Governors, the Aztec, all the museums?” her friend asked.

“Well, you can’t miss,” said Salinas. “You have to come here, or else you are missing out.”

Salinas is an expert on Mexico City’s cultural and architectural offerings. After serving in the foreign ministry for 25 years, she is the only woman director of three collections at the Museo de Arte de Mexicanas Indias, or PAMI, the country’s premier institution devoted to Mexican art, and she is one of the few living people who have worked at all of Mexico’s important museums, including some of its most celebrated attractions.

It’s been over 40 years since Salinas was invited to work at PAMI, and the museum has become one of her favorite places in the world.

As director of the Alhambra art collection, Salinas visited the Palace of the Government to greet the Mexican leader, President Felipe Calderón, in October 2007. They walked through the inner courtyard of the Palace, where Calderon was once the president of Mexico, and where the former president still resides. The pair later shared a drink in the café.

“The atmosphere was extraordinary,” Salinas recalled. “His office was across the patio.”

In 2012, Salinas traveled to Mexico City to visit the Museo Cardenal Gómez de Oliva, an important research collection in history, and the Museo de Bellas Artes, which also houses the country’s best collection of fine Mexican paintings.

“The Museum of Bellas Artes is my favorite,” she said. “It is my own, personal favorite, because when I visit there, the museum is always crowded and full.”

It is rare that someone of Salinas’ experience and rank ever works in the country

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