The Museo Soumaya is a private museum in the Nuevo Polanco area of Mexico City. Admission to the museum is free. It is owned by the Carlos Slim Foundation and contains the extensive art, religious relics, historical documents, and coin collection of Carlos Slim and his late wife Soumaya, after whom the museum was named.
The museum holds works by many of the best known European artists from the 15th to the 20th century. It contains a large collection of casts of sculptures by Auguste Rodin.
The museum was founded in 1994. In 2011 it opened a new location which cost over $70 million to build. The new building, a shiny silver cloud-like structure reminiscent of a Rodin sculpture, was designed by the Mexican architect Fernando Romero, who is married to a daughter of Carlos Slim, and engineered with Ove Arup and Frank Gehry.
The Museo Soumaya has a collection of over 66,000 pieces of art. The majority of the art consists of European works from the 15th to the 20th century. It also holds Mexican art, religious relics, and historical documents and coins. The museum contains the world's largest collection of pre-Hispanic and colonial era coins. It also holds the largest collection of casts of sculptures by Auguste Rodin outside of France, and the world's largest private collection of his art. Slim owns a total of 380 casts and works of art by Rodin. His late wife, whom he credits with teaching him much of what he knows about art, was an admirer of Rodin's work. In addition to Rodin, some notable European artists whose work is displayed include Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, the circle of Leonardo da Vinci, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Joan Miró, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, El Greco, and Tintoretto. The most valuable work of art in the collection is believed to be a version of Madonna of the Yarnwinder by a member of the circle of Leonardo da Vinci. Another version of the same painting has been valued at over £30 Million. Several Mexican artists are also featured, including Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo. The director of the museum has claimed that the total worth of the art it holds is over $700 million.
The museum's director, Alfonso Miranda, has described its approach as "not a copy of the Occident; what we have is a whole new version of things." The museum notably includes some types of European art that have not been permanently displayed in Latin America in the past.
Carlos Slim bought a large number of sculptures by Rodin in the 1980s while their value was at a low ebb. The values of many pieces he bought for the collection have soared since then. Some critics have claimed that Slim valued quantity over quality when amassing his collection, however. In Mexican art circles, it is said, perhaps apocryphally, that he has calculated the average cost per kilogram of Rodin’s works.