Looking for something to do while in Playa del Carmen?
My daughter and I really enjoyed our time visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
The museum is curated with the idea of looking at important events in her life and how these events were catalysts for her works of art.
Who is Frida Kahlo?
Briefly, she is regarded as a woman ahead of her time and as a world-renowned painter. She is an icon of feminism. Her popularity has especially grown in recent years. She is trully a multi-faceted, fascinating woman.
If you aren’t familiar with this Mexican artist, I suggest watching the movie, Frida, with Salma Hayak in the title role. It’s really well done. But read on, and I can give you a small glimpse of her life.
I think Frida’s life was never easy. And I’m pretty sure that this is an understatement.
She had polio when she was 6 years old. Consequently, she started school later than her peers. Additionally, her right leg was smaller than her left, and she was bullied.
Even with her late start at school, she did well. She was intelligent and read voraciously. As I tell my ESOL students — reading is everything!
She had dreamed of becoming a physician. As one of only 35 young women at an elite school of 2000, she was on her way to making that dream come true.
Why did she begin to paint?
Unfortunately, she was in a horrific accident when her school bus collided with a street car. She was only 18 years old.
She suffered multiple fractures and displaced vertebrae. A metal handrail impaled her pelvis. It was truly a miracle that she survived. Some passengers died instantly. While others died later of their injuries.
After a month in the hospital, she was in a full-body cast for two more months. She had to wear medical corsets from then on. (You can see these braces often in her paintings.) She endured 30 operations over her lifetime.
With this accident, her life was forever changed. And so was the art world.
“My painting carries with it the message of pain.” –Frida Kahlo
Frida’s works reflect her life. As a surrealist, she included aspects of her Mexican heritage, her socialist views, her pain, her solitude, and her tumultuous marriage to painter and muralist, Diego Rivera.
Viva la Vida
She was only 47 years old when she died. Her last painting, completed a week before her death, is Viva la Vida — Watermelons. Interestingly, Diego Rivera’s last painting was also of watermelons.
All of her paintings contain symbolic meaning, and this was no exception. You can often see watermelons associated with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It is no surprise that she used this symbol of death in this art piece.
Despite a life full of loss and tragedy, this painting shows her incredible vitality. Even in the face of death.
Frida had a lust for life that leaves us wanting to know more.
“I hope the exit is joyful, and I hope never to return”
– Frida Kahlo
LONG LIVE LIFE
Our Visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum in Playa del Carmen
We were staying in Tulum and made the short drive to Playa del Carmen for a day of shopping and relaxing at a beach club. Take a look at my article about safety in Mexico if you are concerned about visiting Riviera Maya.
We found parking and shopped along 5th Avenue. While the three boys continued to wander around town, my daughter and I took in the life and art of an amazing woman.
Museo Frida Kahlo in Riviera Maya
The museum is quite small, so you can easily miss it if you’re walking by. The nice thing, though, is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time there to learn so much about this woman, her life, and her art. We took our time and spent about an hour wandering through the displays and (dare I say it?) enjoying the air-conditioning.
Take a Break from the Beach
I know you’re thinking, “The beach is a block away–why go to a museum?” Well, it’s a perfect retreat from the rain. Or to get out of the sun for a bit. Or to take a break from shopping and eating. One can only drink so many margaritas, right?
The exhibition is digital in nature–none of Frida’s original artworks are there. But it doesn’t take away from the overall message. You can see vibrant, life-size digital copies of her works. More importantly, you can learn about her life at the time the art was created. So you don’t have to have an art degree to see the complexity of her pieces.
Even though the original art is missing, you can walk away with greater insight of the artist than you would at a traditional art museum.
Frida Kahlo Museum in Playa del Carmen
The Spanish name of the museum is Museo FridaKahlo Riviera Maya.
It is located about a block from the beach on a little side street from the main thoroughfare. 5ta Avenida esq. Calle 8, Centro. Playa del Carmen, Solidaridad. Quintana Roo, México.
They are open from 9 am to 11 pm, so plenty of opportunity to visit.
Tickets are about $15 US. I have seen on the Internet that you can buy “skip the line” tickets for a dollar more, but I see no need to do that. When we were there in December, there was no line at all.
The exhibits are presented in both Spanish and English.
There is a much larger museum in Mexico City at the home where she was born and later died (Casa Azul). I hope I can visit someday. Not only does it have some of her original works, but it also provides a glimpse into her daily life.
A Small & Mighty Museum in Mexico
If you visit the Yucatan/Riviera Maya, be sure to take in this small, but powerful museum!
You can also visit the wonderful official website where you can learn more about Frida Kahlo and her art.
“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”
– Frida Kahlo
Need a place to say?
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Until next time…