International cultural organization says Mexican museum executives are afraid to tell the truth about serious financial difficulties

Amid the blows to museum budgets around the world, Mexican state museums are particularly vulnerable, according to the Museum Watch Committee of the International Committee on Museums and Collections of Modern Art.

The organization, which sent a statement to the country’s Culture Secretary Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, says the situation is dire and Mexican museum leaders are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals. Several museums contacted by Artnet News did not respond, or indicated that their directors were not available.

The letter, dated December 10, is signed by Mami Kataoka, director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo.

Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is dotted with an enviable network of state and university museums, including the imposing new National Museum of Anthropology, the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, and the Mexico City Museum. The city alone has 16 museums, according to the committee’s letter, the rest of the country has 40 more.

The committee says that under Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador, austerity measures that began in May 2019 resulted in a 50% cut in public funding for exhibition programs. In April 2020, budget caps of 75% of the pledged totals were imposed on museums overseen by the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature of Mexico.

Regional museums have seen their budgets cut by more than 75 percent, says the committee, which adds that opportunities for earned income have been drastically reduced in recent months.

Meanwhile, culture workers have gone on strike demanding better benefits. Some are also due to a month’s salary, according to El País. Their contracts end at the end of the year, which means they could be out of work in just a few weeks. A museum worker told the newspaper that she had not been paid since March, despite working 10-hour days.

In the midst of all this, according to the committee, some $ 175 million has been allocated to develop a cultural complex in the Chapultepec Forest in Mexico City.

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