Exclusive Interview with DAVID de la TORRE
Director/Curator of the  Mexican Museum en S.F.

Por Iride Aparicio
Photos courtesy: Mexican Consulate in S.F.



SAN FRANCISCO, CA – DAVID de La TORRE, Museum Director, Curator and Educator, was born and raised in Santa Barbra California. After receiving his training at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF),  and earning a B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Francisco (USF) an M.A. in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University (JFKU)  and graduating from the Getty Leadership Institute for Museum Management (MMI) and adquiring experience working in Hawaii for a few years and serving as Director of Programs & Chief Curator of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, in Los Angeles, he moved to San Francisco where he works as the Executive Director of the Mexican Museum in San Francisco located at Fort Mason Center.

Because Mr. de La Torre also serves on the Board of Director of the US National Committee for the International Council of Museums, (ICOM-US) and works as panelist, juror and field reviewer for numerous agencies and funding sources including the California Arts Council, the Metropolitan Life Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Mr. de la Torre is a very busy person.

CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL had a chance to interview him before the opening of the bronze statues exhibition at the terrace of the building of USF in San Francisco.  We are transcribing his description of the Mexican Museum in the city. Mr. de La TORRE says:

“In 1975, artist Peter Rodriguez founded the Mexican Museum in San Francisco.  It opened on Folsom Street, in the Mission District.  Rodriguez’ inspiration as an artist, was prompted by the notion that Latinos and “people of color” were not being given opportunities to show their work in the major institutions here in the Bay Area and Nationally, so the museum was part of a movement where community-based arts organizations were springing out of the country. Two other organizations were born at the same time: El Museo del Barrio, our sister organization in New York, and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago“

“Peter’s secondary vision for the museum was that there was no institution in the United States devoted specific to Mexico as an art museum. Peter had grown up in the Central Valley but he has had the opportunity to go to México D.F. early in his career, and he was so impressed about what he saw in terms of Mexico’s ancient cultures and all the wonderful artistic and cultural strengths of Mexico. When he saw the richness of Mexico's culture, he thought that Americans should experienced it and learn about its richness in this country, so close to us. These were the two things which propelled the creation of the Mexican Museum.

The Museum moved to Fort Mason Center, twenty five years ago, and that was a good move for the museum because its collections were beginning to grow and we needed a place to house the collections.


The collection has grown out of gifts from the community. The five areas of the museum’s collection are:

  • Pre-Hispanic Art. The Ancient Culture which include objects from Mesoamerica, Central America, and Peru. (over 25,000 objects)
  • Colonial Art. The arts of the l8th and l9th Centuries. Santos, Wood Art, Oil paintings, retablos, jewelry, ecclesiastical and religious styles (1500 objects)
  • Folk Art, Popular Art. Which is the largest because we were the recipients of the Nelson Rockefeller’s collection of Mexican Folk Art that came in the l980’s. as well as other very large collections of Folk Art. Its is a very interesting collection showing the Folk Arts, traditions, Folklore, and Mexico's Folk life. The wonderful things that make Mexico what it is.
  • Mexican and Latin America Fine Arts, which includes works by painters such as Orozco and  Rivera. 
  •  The last one is Mexican-American, Chicano, Latino.  The Art of our times, the art of living artists.

"Today, the Mexican Museum has over 15,000 objects in its permanent collection." he says. 

Culled from the Mexican Museum impressive collection, since last month until December of this year, the University of San Francisco (USF)and the the Mexican Museum are partnering  ESCULTURA, an exhibition of  iconic bronze and steel sculptures that reveal the strong influence that Pre-Columbian art had on cubism, with the sculptures representing female archetypes with a strong reference to Mesoamerican forms.

Among the featured artists in the exhibition are FRANCISCO ZÚÑIGA, FELIPE CASTAÑEDA, JOSE LUIS CUEVAS, JORGE DURON and ARMANDO AMAYA. Also included in the exhibition are sculptures by MANUEL NERI, BYRON GALVEZ, and GUNTHER GERZSO.  Together, these sculptures offer a a sample of 20th century Latin American Sculptures that explore human emotions


ESCULTURA  is a collaboration of  The MEXICAN MUSEUM and USF’s that come to both institutions are a perfect time. USF has just started a new Master of Arts in Museum Studies Program. designed for entry-level and emerging museum professionals as well as professionals in other fields wishing to pursue a career en the Museum field The partnership between USF and the Mexican Museum will be a healthy sharing or resources which will allow USF's students a hands-on experience working with the Mexican Museum Collection.

The exhibition is located on  USF’s  Rooftop Sculpture Terrace, where the sculptures will be displayed free of charge and open to the public on week days  from 9:00 to 5:00 PM.

Video by Paul Morrill from USF.  Used with permission from USF