San Luis Potosi


  • Visit a stunning 19th-century mansion, recast as a museum
  • Learn the backstory behind Mexico’s love of decorative and religious masks

If you’ve ever caught a Day of the Dead celebration, visited a Mayan ruin, or watched lucha libre (Mexico’s unique spin on professional wrestling), you know that masks have played a central role in Mexico’s folk art, religious traditions, and even sports. Museo Nacional de la Máscara, on the edge of central Plaza de Carmen, takes a colorful and probing look at this history with its collection of more than 2,500 máscara, most of them donated by private collector Víctor Moya Rubio, a wealthy engineer, in the early 1980s, and some dating back centuries. Across five galleries you’ll find indigenous pieces, representing deities worshipped for rain and harvest, that were worn by high priests. When Spanish colonists were unsuccessful at banning the use of masks, they adopted them into biblical narrative to symbolize angels and demons, many of which are also on display. Look for El Tlahualil, a massive mask and headdress made of feathers and jewels, originally from Michoacán, that’s still a parade hit during annual street festivals. The Danza del Venado might also catch your eye: fashioned out of a deer’s head, the mask is used during a centuries-old story dance about a hunt, originally choreographed by Mexico’s Sonora and Sinaloa tribes. While you wander, take note of the building itself, a mansion built by wealthy landowners in the late 19th century. Decorative frescoes by Italian painters and a small collection of original furnishings now form an elegant backdrop for the collection.

Located on the edge of the historic district’s Plaza de Carmen, this small museum is about a 15-minute drive from the Conrad.

MUSEO NACIONAL DE LA MÁSCARA: 2 Villerías, El Centro; +52-444-812-3025; museonacionaldelamascara.com