Mexico › Where to See Works of Frida Kahlo
Updated: September 23, 2020
Who is Frida Kahlo?
Frida Kahlo is one of Mexico’s greatest artists and a feminist icon, known for her deeply personal paintings, many of them self-portraits. She was born in 1907 in Coyoacán (Mexico City) and died in 1954, having lived with the painful effects of childhood polio and a traffic accident at the age of 18, when she broke her back (which made her unable to have children). Her work takes inspiration from Mexican folk art, blended with surrealistic elements.
Frida Kahlo had a famously tempestuous relationship with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera; they married in 1929 but both had affairs and they finally divorced in 1939 – only to re-marry the following year and live happily but separately thereafter.
Where to see her work
The place with the best museums for Kahlo paintings is Mexico City; the best art museum overall for Frida’s work is the Museo Dolores Olmedo, though the most popular is the Museo Frida Kahlo, set inside her former home.
Museum entrance fees
Museums in Mexico are relatively cheap, with most entrance fees ranging from 60 to 80 pesos (US$2.80–3.80) – bring peso cash, as they often will not accept credit cards or foreign currency. The main exception here is the Museo Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most popular museums – expect to pay 250 to 280 pesos (US$11.80-13.30), and to book tickets in advance.
Museum opening times
Museums in Mexico tend to open from around 10am to 4.30–6pm daily, though most close all day on Mondays. Museums also tend to have convenient, clean bathrooms.
Get to know Frida Kahlo
Get a thorough understanding of Frida Kahlo’s life and work from Hayden Herrera’s Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo. It’s also worth watching the 2002 biopic Frida, starring Salma Hayek.
Where to see her work outside of Mexico
Frida Kahlo’s work can also be seen in galleries around the world, notably in the USA: New York’s MoMA, Detroit’s DIA, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. all hold Kahlo paintings.
Some of the largest collections of Frida’s work in Mexico are private, though paintings from them are almost continually on display through traveling exhibitions.
The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection is organized by the Vergel Foundation – its next stop is the Denver Art Museum (October 2020 to January 2021). The Gelmans were Eastern European refugees to Mexico who started collecting Frida’s work in the 1940s – they purchased Self-Portrait as a Tehuana, among several others.
The 8 best places to see the work of Frida Kahlo in Mexico
It’s always busy, but this museum is a must-see for Kahlo fans. Better known as the Casa Azul (Blue House), this is where Frida was born and grew up, lived for a time with Diego Rivera, and where she died in 1954. The house is crammed with all sorts of personal effects and items used by Kahlo, from her collection of religious retablos and signature folk dresses to her last wheelchair. In terms of artwork, the museum holds one of our all-time favorites: Viva la Vida, aka Watermelons, her last painting. The collection of red, ripe cut watermelons and its simple message of defiance in the face of suffering inspired a Coldplay album. There’s also the grim but powerful Frida and the Cesarean, the unfinished My Family; El marxismo dará salud a los enfermos (with Frida throwing off her crutches); a portrait of Frida’s father (Guillermo Kahlo); and the unsettling Stalin and Frida, among many others.
Location: Londres 247, Colonia del Carmen, Coyoacán, México City
Phone: +52 (55) 5658 5778
2. Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City
Mexico City’s premier modern art showcase makes this list primarily on the basis of one painting: Los dos Fridas (The Two Fridas), justly regarded as one of Kahlo’s greatest works. The painting depicts two versions of Frida: on the left in a white traditional Tehuana dress, her heart torn, and on the right, dressed in modern European-style clothes, holding a locket with a picture of Diego Rivera as a child.
The museum holds several other Kahlo paintings, including the still life Los Cocos.
Location: Paseo de la Reforma y Gandhi s/n, Bosque de Chapultepec, México City
Phone: + 52 (55) 8647 5530
3. Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco
The largest private collection of works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo is another must-see for fans – there are some 27 paintings and drawings by Kahlo here alone, displayed inside a stunning 17th-century hacienda on the outskirts of Mexico City. The showstoppers here include The Broken Column (in which Frida’s torso is split and her spine replaced with an Ionic column in reference to her streetcar accident), the harrowing Henry Ford Hospital (painted after a miscarriage in 1932), the equally disturbing A Few Small Pricks and poignant The Deceased Dimas, where the dead son of one of Frida’s servants is dressed like a little prince.
Location: Av México 5843, La Noria, Xochimilco, México City
Phone: +52 (55) 55550891
4. Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo
Though there’s not much to see in terms of Frida’s actual work here, fans will want to visit the twin houses in which Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo lived and worked “together but apart” from 1933 to 1941 (Frida used the bridge connecting the two houses to bring Rivera his meals). Kahlo painted Los dos Fridas (The Two Fridas) here, and there are several photo portraits of her on display, along with a few minor works by the artist herself.
Location: Diego Rivera 2, San Ángel, México City
Phone: +52 (55) 86475470
This colorful, quirky museum in Cuernavaca – some 85 km south of Mexico City – proudly displays Frida’s Self-Portrait with a Monkey, featuring the artist with a spider monkey, both with ribbons in their hair, sitting in front of a dead tree stump.
The museum occupies the former home of American artist Robert Brady, a 16th-century convent he purchased in the 1960s. Paintings by Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and Rafael Coronel are also featured.
Location: Netzahualcóyotl 4, Cuernavaca, Morelos
Phone: +52 (777) 3188554
This regional museum – 120 km west from Mexico City – contains a small but fascinating Frida Kahlo collection, mostly early works. Many are simple watercolors, such as Smalltown Girl. Échate l’Otra (Have Another One) is a cityscape, named after the blue pulquería in the painting, likely based on Frida’s hometown of Coyoacán. There are also two versions of Frida in Coyoacán, one a watercolor and the other in pencil. Oil paintings in the collection include the unfinished and enigmatic Pancho Villa y la Adelita, and an experimental portrait of Miguel N. Lira.
Location: Plaza de la Constitución 21, Tlaxcala ee Xicohténcatl, Tlaxcala
Phone: +52 (246) 466 0352
7. Museo Nacional De Agricultura
Hardcore Kahlo fans can make the journey to Texcoco (35 km northeast from Mexico City) to see Frida’s portrait of Marte R Gómez, former Mexican Minister of Agriculture. The painting is displayed in the Fototeca section of the National Museum of Agriculture on the campus of Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, a highly respected agricultural college (the painting was actually commissioned for the college). The college chapel here is smothered by fabulous Diego Rivera murals, further justifying a trip.
Location: Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Texcoco, State of Mexico
Phone: + 52 (595) 952 1500
This private art gallery in Mexico City is one of the premier dealers in Frida Kahlo works, organizing shows all over the world and often displaying rare paintings in its main showroom, just off Av. Paseo de la Reforma.
Location: Cerrada de Hamburgo 7, Col. Juárez, Mexico City
Phone: +52 (55) 5207-2900