Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

University Campus... Outdoor Art Museum

There are not many universities in the world which can boast a campus which is also a World Heritage Site, but in 2007 UNESCO bestowed that honor upon the University of Mexico.

The university is officially known as the National Autonomous University of Mexico... UNAM for short.  With an enrollment of over 300,000 students, it is the largest university in Latin America.  It is also generally considered the leading university in the Spanish speaking world.  In its modern form, as a non-religious, public institution, it was founded in 1910, but it can trace its heritage back to the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico which was established in 1551.

The university was originally housed in numerous buildings in the colonial "Centro Histórico" of Mexico City.  In the early 1950s construction was begun on a new "Ciudad Universitaria" 
(University City) upon a barren area covered with ancient lava flows on the south side of the capital.  The new campus was opened in 1954.  Some of Mexico's leading muralists were commissioned to decorate many of the buildings... hence UNAM's status today as a World Heritage Site.

The most photographed building on the campus is the university library.  The building is covered on all four sides with mosaic murals designed by Juan O'Gorman.  The murals depict Pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern Mexico.


The Rectory (Administration Building) boasts a three-dimensional mural painted by David Siqueiros entitled "The People to the University, the University to the People".

One of the university auditoriums has a mural by José Chávez Morado entitled "The Conquest of Energy".

The artist Francisco Eppens drew on motifs from Aztec mythology to create a mural of glazed tiles on the façade of School of Medicine.

The university stadium gained fame as the venue for the 1968 Summer Olympics.  The structure was designed  to resemble a volcanic crater, although others likened it to a Mexican "sombrero".  Diego Rivera did a three-dimensional mural made of natural colored stones.  He planned to decorate the entire structure with similar works, but he died before he could continue the project.

Anyone with an interest in the Mexican muralists should include a visit to the university campus.


  1. I've never been to UNAM although I have friends who have taught there. ANOTHER place to add to my ever growing list!

    Thanks for all the info.......

    1. You're welcome, Barbara!
      I guess a trip to D.F. is in your future.