Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)
A stunning Art Nouveau masterpiece, originally designed by Adamo Boari and envisioned for the centenary celebrations of Mexico’s independence in 1910, the Palace of Fine Arts was completed by architects Alberto J. Pani and Federico Mariscal, who decorated its interiors with Art Deco motifs. Its inauguration was celebrated in 1934. Occupied by the National Institute of Fine Arts since 1947, the Palace of Fine Arts has been the center of notable events in opera, dance, music, art, and literature. Materials that were experimental at the time of its construction, such as the Marotti crystal roof, created gallery spaces illuminated naturally from skylights. Decades of deferred maintenance and failure at the junction points between various systems such as the glass block, concrete, tile dome, and copper flashing along the ribs of the dome, resulted in severe deterioration of the structure. These same structural problems led to water penetrating the building through the skylights, seriously endangering the palace’s spectacular murals.
How We Helped
The Palace of Fine Arts was listed on the 1998 Watch. Subsequently, WMF, through support from American Express, completed the restoration of one of the side cupolas flanking the main dome of the Palace in 2002. The main dome restoration was completed with assistance from WMF with support from the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage and Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in 2004. Most of the original material that could be saved was maintained, although many ceramic tiles that had failed were replaced by new ones that matched the originals in material and finish.
Why It Matters
Of the many public buildings begun during the government of Porfirio Díaz, the Palace of Fine Arts is Mexico City’s grandest and most important performance space. It contains murals executed by some of the most outstanding Mexican artists, including Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Roberto Montenegro, and houses exhibition halls for sculpture and painting. The building is also home to the National Museum of Architecture, and the National Theater.