CLAS Partnership: The Mexican Museum

An architect's image of the future Mexican Museum in downtown San Francisco.

Over the last decade, CLAS and The Mexican Museum have built a partnership to bring the museum's collections and exhibitions to UC Berkeley, and to connect the university's academic and research expertise with the museum's programs. 


The Mexican Museum (TMM) was founded by the well-known San Francisco artist Peter Rodríguez in 1975, with the goal of celebrating the aesthetic expression of the Mexican and Mexican-American people. Today, the Museum’s vision has expanded to include the full scope of the Mexican, Chicanx and Latinx experience – including the arts, history and heritage of their respective cultures.

In 2012, TMM became an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. The Museum currently has a permanent collection of more than 16,500 objects reflecting Pre-Hispanic, Colonial, Popular, Modern and Contemporary Mexican, Mexican-American, Latin American, Latino, and Chicano art.

TMM is currently undergoing a process of reconfiguration that will not only result in an expansion of its galleries but also in a transformation of its museological concept. The museum is preparing to move to its permanent home in Yerba Buena Gardens. This thriving downtown neighborhood is the region’s most exciting arts and cultural district. Through a public/ private partnership between The Mexican Museum, the City and County of San Francisco, and the developer, Millennium Partners, the museum is at the threshold of achieving a bold and profound vision that was initiated by its founders in the 1970s. The new museum will be a space that is accessible, transparent, and focused on providing diverse communities with educational events and enjoyable experiences through art and culture of Mexican and Latin American origin, understood in all of its dynamics and permanence, and transcending the notion of borders.

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CLAS & the Mexican Museum

In 2015, CLAS and the Mexican Museum announced that they were embarking on a unique partnership, aimed creating an exchange of ideas, artists, and scholarship that will bring innovative cultural programming to a wider audience in the Bay Area and California.

“We are very excited about this tremendous partnership between The Mexican Museum and the Center for Latin American Studies,” said Andrew M. Kluger, Chairman of The Mexican Museum Board of Trustees. “Our goal is to link the intellectual vitality of their program with the extraordinary richness of what the museum offers.”

UC Berkeley Professor Harley Shaiken, former director of CLAS, sees the strategic museum-university relationship as highly innovative and hugely beneficial to many communities in the Bay Area in terms of lectures, conferences, art and music programs, and other events.

“CLAS has organized an exceptional program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences on the Berkeley campus,” said Shaiken. “We look forward to providing a link between all the cultural vitality of the UC Berkeley campus and the exceptional collections, cultural experience, and people of The Mexican Museum.”

Along with what the collaboration could mean for audiences in San Francisco and beyond, Kluger says that one of the primary goals of the collaboration between CLAS and TMM is to help bring the museum’s collections to a broader audience in the Bay Area. This includes local schools, community colleges, and immigrant communities, as well as scholars and other groups who are not traditionally museumgoers.

“The Mexican Museum has grown into a tremendous educational resource over the years, initiating partnerships with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and the University of San Francisco, among others,” said Kluger. “Through these partnerships, we have been able to use the wealth of our resources to help both student and professional artists and to introduce children to the arts and culture of Mexico. The public has also come to see how The Mexican Museum plays a crucial role in maintaining cultural ties between our two nations.”

Cosponsored Events 

Among the events, exhibits, and publications brought about by this partnership:

The soul and spirit of the arts and cultures of Mexico and the Americas are fundamentally and inextricably linked.
The mission of The Mexican Museum is to voice the complexity and richness of Latino art and culture throughout the Americas, and to engage and facilitate dialogue among the broadest public.