Want to see 3,000 Mexican masks in one place? Head to the Museo Rafael Coronel in Zacatecas.
I first arrived in this part of Mexico while on assignment to review some hotels in Aguascalientes and Zacatecas. The former has a great Museo de los Muertos (Museum of the Dead) and the latter has one of the most amazing museums I’ve ever seen, with some 3,000 masks from all over Mexico. The collection is housed in a restored section of a 16th-century crumbling building that was a grand hacienda and convent.
For less than two bucks you get to tour it all and since this city is off the radar of most tourists, I doubt it’s ever very crowded. When I visited I got a private tour: a guy was going ahead of me turning on all the lights. I came back another time with my family and there was one other person in the museum. I bought a t-shirt because I wanted to help make sure this mask museum survives.
I don’t usually shoot a lot of photos in museums, but I went nuts in this one. The masks are from one guy’s private collection, which blows my mind since what’s on display is only 30% of the whole amount he bequeathed to the museum. The others are in storage. All of them are grouped thematically, from a whole wall of devils to a whole wall of gringos with big noses. Cheetahs, kings, crocodiles, and monsters. Since most are on the wall instead of being encased in glass, it’s easier to photograph these masks from Mexico than it is to shoot artifacts through the glass in a normal museum.
Kick back with a cup of coffee and check out the Zacatecas Mask Museum slideshow below.