Art & Museums in Cancun
At first it doesn’t look like much. Just some pottery with a faded patina, and a few oddly shaped stones. But you read the placard, and you learn that these items are estimated to be over 1200 years old. You take a closer look at the intricate artwork on the pottery. You can clearly see the representation of a jaguar, yellow still showing between its black spots.
Over a thousand years ago, people were living here, creating art out of clay, shaping tools out of stone. And now here you are. You stare a bit longer, somehow feeling smaller all the while.
A Thriving Arts Scene
Cancun is home to a vibrant arts community filled with talented artists. Its museums have many unique pieces of cultural and historical art, including the incredible underwater sculpture garden at MUSA. Whether you’re looking for a taste of the local flavor or just a way to pass the rare rainy day, delving into the Cancun arts scene will help make your trip more complete.
The Best Museums to Visit
Some of the best art to be found in Cancun will simply be in the streets, where local artists set up their wares in the hopes of earning some tourist dollars. For a more formal artistic excursion, we recommend the following spots.
Mexican Folk Art Museum
Vibrant colors and intricate details abound in this museum dedicated to traditional Mexican artwork. You’ll get a taste of styles from different regions of the country and see how techniques and materials change from place to place. Be sure to check out the famous collection of Dias De Los Muertos dolls!
The Mexican Folk Art Museum is located in the activity-filled Xcaret Park, making it easy to supplement your cultural explorations with the site’s performances and archaeological attractions. Plan for a full day at Xcaret to make the most of your trip!
Museo Maya de Cancun
Delve into the history of the Yucatan Peninsula at the Museo Maya de Cancun. A part of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, this museum houses countless of artifacts from the many Mayan archaeological sites in the area.
The museum’s grounds include the San Miguelito archaeological site, where visitors can roam through the remains of a village that dates back to pre-Spanish times. If you’re at all interested in the long history of the Mayan people, this is a must-see place.
Museo Subacuatico de Arte (MUSA)
A unique twist on the traditional art museum, MUSA houses over 500 sculptures on the seafloor not far from Cancun’s shores. The museum opened in 2009 and quickly grew into one of Cancun’s top tourist destinations, and with good reason. It’s simply an incredible experience.
Visiting MUSA requires a boat and either a snorkel or SCUBA gear, all of which are readily available from any number of tour guides. The museum combines the beauty of world-class sculpture with the natural wonder of a coral reef, as the ocean slowly colonizes the sculptures and transforms them into a part of itself. Learn more about MUSA.
This posh shopping mall is also home to an incredible marketplace for local artists. There’s no better way to view, and purchase, the works of these talented individuals. Paintings, jewelry, and other hand-made art will be on display, and you’ll be able to support the artist directly should you find a piece you want to take home with you.
Plaza Kukulcan also houses the high-end galleries that hold the works of famous Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante. Whether you just want to view his art, or you’re a high-end collector, stop by the Xaman-Ek Galleries to see the works of a master. More about Plaza Kukulcan.
Planning Your Trip
You’ll want to book your tour of MUSA well in advance, and you should set aside a whole day of exploring the wonderland of Xcaret should you want to see the Folk Art Museum. Plaza Kukulcan and the Museo Maya can be spur-of-the-moment decisions - just be sure to check their hours of operation!
Before You Go
The Yucatan Peninsula has a deep and vivid cultural history, which has helped shape the local culture there today. As you prepare for your vacation to Cancun, do a little research on the region’s significant past so you can better appreciate what you see when you’re there.
You Should Also Know…
Plan to spend a lot of time on your feet at these museums! Wear comfortable shoes and bring appropriate clothing to stay comfy.
Handmade artwork makes a special and memorable gift, and an ideal memento from your trip.
Learning a bit about Mayan culture and the modern Cancun arts scene will unlock a whole new level of enjoyment on your vacation!