Museo Universitario del Chopo (Chopo University Museum), Mexico City

Museo Universitario del Chopo

Museo Universitario del Chopo by Omar Omar. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license.

During the twentieth century world’s fairs were a great success in the major European and American cities, but smaller cities prepared local fairs, and one example of them was the Art and Textile Industry Exhibition held in Düsseldorf, Germany.

For this event, the German metallurgical company Gutehoffnungshütte (Good Hope Mine) located in Oberhausen, built the building parts to assemble, under design of Bruno Möhring.

At the end of 1902 concluded the fair and Mexican Company of Permanent Exhibition bought three of their four exhibition halls. The building was dismantled and shipped to Mexico. Was assembled in the north of the city, in Santa María la Ribera neighborhood, near railway stations, because it was an attractive place for middle class families, it was near the center and had all the services.

Between 1903 and 1905 the so-called Cabaña de la Buena Esperanza (Good Hope Cottage) was assembled in the area of Chopo Street (common name for Populus nigra, tall tree of African origin, found in Europe and Asia), in Santa María la Ribera. Nowadays, street change its name to Enrique González Martínez Street.

In 1909, Public Instruction and Fine Arts Ministry rented the Chopo building to mount there a Natural History Museum. But before was used to install a Japanese industrial art exhibition that was part of the Centenary celebrations of Independence.

Museo Universitario del Chopo at night

Museo Universitario del Chopo at night by júbilo haku. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license.

On December 1st, 1913 opened the Natural History Museum. The former National Museum of Mexico welcomed anthropological, ethnological, paleontological, and zoological collections. The collection was divided: the anthropological and ethnological collections remained in the original headquarters and the natural sciences formed the new Natural History Museum. By 1922, the Museum was the best in Mexico and received 1,200 visitors daily, which called him familiarly, Museo del Chopo (Chopo Museum).

By the mid-sixties the deterioration of the building and the decline of the heritage caused closure of the Museum. The collections went to the Museum of Natural History in Chapultepec, the Museum of Geology and institutes, schools and faculties of UNAM.

The rescue work of the building began in 1973. After nearly two years of work, Chopo University Museum was ready as a space dedicated to cultural diffusion, particularly young and experimental art.

On November 25, 1975, UNAM Chancellor, Guillermo Soberón opened the Museum. Since its opening, it was a dynamic advocate of contemporary art, characterized by its focus on innovation, inclusive and pluralistic character, and his work is positioned as an essential reference of the Avant Garde.

In 2006 and 2007 renewed its building to better serve the needs of contemporary art, through intervention of renewed architects and engineers and implemented by the Coordination of Special Projects of UNAM.