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'Mango Street' And Beyond: National Museum Of Mexican Art's Summer Must-Sees

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 7, 2015 3:35PM

Photo by: Marielle Shaw

One of the things about this city that we could and should hold dear are its multi-cultural roots. From a Polish population that only Warsaw could beat, the Swedes of Andersonville, Greektown’s delicacies, Humboldt Park’s Puerto Rican pride and Pilsen’s Mexican flair, we’re swimming in opportunities to eat, drink and otherwise get to know cultures that others simply don’t have the opportunity to experience. And we feel, while gentrification looms and puffed up politicians suggest putting up walls, we should actually learn more and tear some down.

One great way to do this, is to take the time to make your way to the National Museum of Mexican Art. Located on 18th St in Pilsen, the museum is free and open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a beautiful space that we love to visit and its current exhibits, most of which run through at least early August, deserve your attention.

Photo by: Marielle Shaw
Nuestra Historias was our first stop, and centers around stories of Mexican identity. Pieces are from the museum’s permanent collection and cover Mexico’s foundation, religion and immigrant stories as they struggled to make a life elsewhere. This exhibit follows a wide timeline and includes both ancient artifacts and contemporary works. Historias is a great way to get your feet wet for what else you’ll encounter at the museum, and provides a vivid depiction of the land, its beginnings and its people.

Another exhibit we were excited to check out was The House on Mango Street: Artists Interpret Community. This exhibit was inspired by the novel of the same name by Sandra Cisneros. The novel and the exhibit both follow the story of a girl growing up Latino in Chicago, and explore some of the truths and hardships of that life. It is beautifully interpreted in the intimate work of the artists in this gallery. It’s a bold look at life in the city, and what it is like for a diverse group of citizens. At times, walking through the exhibit is like peering into your neighbor’s windows just to see how they live their lives. Mango Street is a must-see, and we found ourselves lingering by piece after piece just to soak it all in.

The overall experience at this museum is an amazing one. From start to finish, it invites its viewers in with brilliant colors and broad brush strokes. The space unflinchingly explores history, for better or for worse, and the struggles of the Mexican people both in their homeland and here. It’s emotional, celebrational, raw and beautiful, leading us to strongly recommend you take a trip to Pilsen and visit soon.

For more information on the museum and its current exhibits, click here.