Inside Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico City: her art, her unique voice, her love for Diego Rivera
Frida Kahlo Museum, known as La Casa Azul (The Blue House) is one of the most visited museums in Mexico. I am not Mexican but when I was young, my mother would always dress up like Frida and have Frida-themed parties with her friends. I always wondered who this person was and why the world imitates her extremely strange outfits and flowers around their head. Where I am from (the Philippines), this is a very popular Halloween costume. Even though people have no idea who Frida was, her portrait is famous in my country – an image of love, art, fear, suffering, and the joy of being alive.
Born in 1907 in La Casa Azul in Mexico City, Frida is considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists. The blue house was built by his father Guillermo Kahlo in 1904 and this is where Frida grew up and died. During the Mexican Revolution, the Kahlo family was financially challenged and they were not able to pay the mortgage, including Frida’s medical care. This is when Frida’s husband, Diego Rivera came into the picture. He purchased the home which paid off the mortgage and debt that Frida’s father accumulated, both in building the house and paying for Frida’s accident.
FRIDA’S LIFE OF PAIN
At age 6, Frida contracted polio which crippled her right leg. It grew shorter than her left leg which made her limp. When Frida was 18, the bus she was riding collided with a trolley car which made her paralyzed most of her life. As she experienced poor health at a very young age, Frida’s revolutionary work inspired many of us today – that one’s life should not stop because of these ‘pains.’ Frida continued to live the life she always imagined by doing what she love most: art. Little did she know that one day, she will be a big icon not just in Mexico but all over the world.
WHERE TO BUY FRIDA KAHLO MUSEUM TICKETS
I purchased the tickets online because the tickets sold at the ticket booth in the museum itself are limited. Meaning, if you go there without a ticket reservation, there is a 95% chance that you won’t get in. The line at the Frida Kahlo Museum is ridiculously long. When facing La Casa Azul, you will see 2 lines: left side is for people who are waiting and right for those who have reservations either from tour agencies or third party ticket sellers.
They said they don’t sell tickets online to ensure the conservation of the artworks but when I was already inside, there were really a lot of people but enough space to walk around. If you want to purchase tours, you can check the packages above, which also includes nearby Xochimilco and Coyoacan tours. You don’t need a whole day in the Frida Kahlo Museum so it’s better to mix it with other tours.
Frida Kahlo Museum ticket prices (weekdays)
- $230 MXN ($12 USD) general admission/foreigners
- $100 MXN $(5.26 USD) for Mexican citizens with an official ID
- $45 MXN ($2.37 USD) for Teachers and students with valid ID
- $20 MXN ($1.05 USD) for Elementary and high school students
- $20 MXN ($1.05 USD) for Senior citizens 65 years old and above
Frida Kahlo Museum ticket prices (weekends)
- $270 MXN ($14.20 USD) general admission/foreigners
- $130 MXN ($6.84 USD) for Mexican citizens with an official ID
- $50 MXN ($2.63 USD) for Teachers and students with valid ID
- $25 MXN ($1.32 USD) for Elementary and high school students
- $25 ($1.32 USD) for Senior citizens 65 years old and above
Frida Kahlo Museum offers free entrance to children ages 6 and below, persons with a disability, and even to poor people who wants to see the museum but doesn’t have money to pay as long as they request it in advance.
INSIDE FRIDA KAHLO’S BLUE HOUSE
The house is exaggeratedly blue, an iconic color in Mexico. There is a massive courtyard with a souvenir shop with seating areas surrounded by plants. But part of this visit that I enjoyed the most was Frida’s collection of clothes. You’ve seen how Frida expressed herself through her clothing. This is called Tehuana traditional clothing, a fascinating matriarchal society based in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca State, Mexico. The name Tehuantepec was given by the Aztecs. It signifies the corridor of land on which the people reside.
For Frida Kahlo, the Tehuana traditional dress is not only an object that she adopted to her body to hide her imperfections but something she fused with and wore like a second skin. The Tehuana matriarchal society is administrated and dominated by women, and as such, their traditional attire is a strong symbol of female power and independence.
It has been said that Frida adopted this image to please her husband, Diego Rivera who was fond of the powerful Zapotec women from this region of Mexico. Nonetheless, this exhibition of Frida’s dresses proposes that far from being a simple act of love, her use of a hybrid dress was a calculated stylization. Frida Kahlo was able to perceive the semiotic quality of clothing, which lies within its role as a metaphorical vehicle, and is also easily understood by the eye of the onlooker. Frida’s use of this traditional dress to strengthen her identity, reaffirming her political beliefs, and concealing her imperfections also built on her own sense of heritage and personal history.
These wardrobes were only discovered in La Casa Azul in April 2004. It was hidden in the upper part of the house, on a tiled bathroom adjacent to Frida’s room. Her clothes were kept for more than 50 years at the request of her husband, muralist Diego Rivera. Around 300 dresses, jewelry, including her orthopedic wardrobes were discovered. Another interesting thing is the display of her orthopedic devices in the Frida Kahlo Museum. Below is a text by author Hayden Herrera, published Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo.
DISABILITY: A BODY LESS THAN PERFECT
Frida started identifying clothes as tools to create her own identity and to conceal her physical imperfections at a very early age. Two tragedies that were to befall Frida, even before she reached what is today considered the age of adulthood, would inform her wardrobe as much as they were to later form the bedrock of her existence and her art. At the age of 6, Kahlo contracted polio: “it all started with a terrible pain at the upper part of my right leg.” As a result, she was left with a withered and shorter leg for life.
Pictured above is Frida Kahlo’s orthopedic supplies, which are also part of the exhibit at the museum.
Visiting Frida Kahlo Museum: is it worth it?
I enjoyed the whole tour and the only negative thing I can say about it is that the number of people seemed to be uncontrolled. They say that they are monitoring the people entering every hour and that there’s a certain number per day but I still found it very crowded inside. I even missed the inside of the house because the line was just really long. On the other hand, the museum is worth visiting because, well, this is Frida’s house. That’s enough reason to visit!