Projects

Portrait of Mexico

Portrait of Mexico was an exhibition of 35 centuries of Mexican art that toured New Zealand in the 1970s.

Mexico & Aotearoa New Zealand

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Portrait of Mexico website 

Portrait of Mexico posters. 1972

Portrait of Mexico was an exhibition of Mexican art that toured New Zealand during 1972 and 1973. This large exhibition of sculpture, painting, ceramics, pottery, folk art and religious art displayed Mexico’s cultural development over 35 centuries. The collection included pre-Columbian sculpture and Mexican folk art through to contemporary painting and sculpture.

The exhibition opened in Dunedin, and then toured Christchurch, Wellington and New Plymouth, before reaching Auckland. The tour was accompanied by a team of Mexican experts, who gave lectures and guided tours of the collection. At the time, it was the largest exhibition that had ever been hosted in Auckland, so the exhibits had to be split between Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Auckland War Memorial Museum. While in Christchurch, the sculptural pieces were displayed in the botanical gardens and outside the Robert McDougall Art Gallery. Almost 28,000 people – including 151 school parties - viewed the exhibition in Christchurch.

Many of the exhibits were loaned to the exhibition by the Museo Nacional de Antropología. This museum, which opened in 1964, is now one of the largest and most visited in Mexico. It is managed by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. Around the same time as the exhibition, the director of Auckland War Memorial Museum, Evan Graham Turbott, visited the Museo Nacional de Antropología, during an international study tour.

Portrait of Mexico was organised by the Secretaría de Cultura (cultural affairs department) of the Government of Mexico and sponsored by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand.

Published 02 November 2023

Poster for the exhibition Portrait of Mexico.

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Christchurch Star. Friday July 14 1972. Image: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Ehecatl. Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Palma. Tajin civilization. Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Press advertisement for Portrait of Mexico.

Poster for the exhibition Portrait of Mexico.

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Broadsheet from Duendin Public Art gallery concerning Portrait of Mexico (detail). Image: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

The Archangel Michael. Art of New Spain. Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Poster for the exhibition Portrait of Mexico.

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Christchurch Star. Friday July 14 1972. Image: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Ehecatl. Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Palma. Tajin civilization. Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Press advertisement for Portrait of Mexico.

Poster for the exhibition Portrait of Mexico.

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Broadsheet from Duendin Public Art gallery concerning Portrait of Mexico (detail). Image: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

The Archangel Michael. Art of New Spain. Image Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

People involved

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Key people collaborating on this project.

People

Evan Graham Turbott

Institutions involved

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Key institutions collaborating on this project.

Institutions

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Institutions

Museo Nacional de Antropología

Institutions

Secretaría de Cultura, Government of Mexico

Institutions

Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand

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