The Museo de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público is an art museum housed in what was the Palace of the Archbishopric, built in 1530 under Friar Juan de Zumárraga on the base of the destroyed pyramid dedicated to the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca. The museum houses a space dedicated to this god as well as a large art collection.
The museum houses a collection of art from the 18th to 20th centuries, including works by Juan Correa, Diego Garcia, Rufino Tamayo, Antonio Ruiz, Adolfo Best Maugard and Raúl Anguiano. The central and permanent exhibit is called the “Pago en Especie y Acervo Patrimonial” (Payment in kind and cultural heritage). It features works done by Mexicans and foreigners living in Mexico, many of whom donated the pieces in lieu of paying their taxes, as part of a programme initiated in 1957 to stimulate artistic activity in Mexico.
However, the programme did not really take off until the 1970s when Jaime Saldívar, Inés Amor, Gilberto Aceves Navarro re-promoted the idea, gaining backing from president Luis Echeverría Álvarez in 1975. The revived project has enjoyed enthusiastic support from contemporary artists, many of whom still make donations to the museum’s collection. Because of this, the museum has been able to assemble exhibits of works by individuals such as Rodolfo Morales, Rafael Coronel, Manuel Felguérez and Vicente Rojo. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits, mostly of contemporary art.
The building was the colonial archbishop’s palace and contains two stone-columned courtyards. In 1530, Friar Juan de Zumárraga became the first archbishop of New Spain, which at that time included most of the Americas and the Philippines. It remained the archbishopric until 1867 when the Finance Ministry Accountancy Department was put there.
De Zumárraga decided to place the see in two houses near where the cathedral would later be built. After initial adaptation, two structures were added: one to cast bells and the other to serve as a prison. The structure continued to be modified until 1771 when it attained the appearance still seen today.
The complex is topped by a cornice on which inverted arches are combined with merlons. Two estipite columns flank the bay of the portal, through which the highest ecclesiastical authorities of colonial times once passed.
Remnants of the pyramid of Tezcatlipoca can be seen on the ground floor after a restoration project was concluded in 1997. Along with restoring the colonial building, two excavations were carried out to expose details of the pre-Hispanic structures.
Francisco Primo de Verdad y Ramos, one of the first conspirators for Mexican Independence, was imprisoned here and died in 1808.