During his lifetime, Diego Rivera amassed a collection of over 60,000 pieces of pre-Columbian Mexican art. By far the largest collection in private hands and at the time larger than the entire holdings of INAH in all its museums.
More than once Frida complained about his spending money they didn’t have to buy ‘one more special piece.’
She certainly loved it all as much as he did and appreciated that he was buying it to keep it in Mexico and out of the hands of foreigners.
His intent was always to have it made available to the public and when he could finally afford it he began designing this beautiful museum.
Its buildings are a well-executed blend of Mayan, Aztec, and Mixtec architecture made of local volcanic stone. He designed the mosaic ceilings, even inventing the technique for their creation. The name is Nahuatl for ‘place of the waters.
It was completed after his death by architects Juan O’Gorman and Heriberto Pagelson and Rivera’s own daughter, Ruth.