History of the building
The former San Juan de Dios Hospital
The former San Juan de Dios Hospital is a historic monument that now houses the Franz Mayer Museum. Its history allows us to learn about the events and uses it has undergone as well as the people who have passed through the building.
Arnoldus Montanus [engraver] y John Ogelby [printer]
Etching and watercolor
40 x 58 cm.
Hospital for the Destitute
During the Spanish colonization of Mexico, Mexico City housed a vast and diverse population and in which only the higher social classes lived in comfort and luxury and enjoyed quality services. In 1582, Pedro López – a renowned Spanish doctor who lived in the city – decided to found a house and hospital to take care of orphans and those people who were not admitted to Spanish hospitals that existed at that time. The place was known as the Hospital of the Destitute. It was founded on the edge of the city, in an area known then as Santa María Cuepopan, an old neighborhood of potters that dated back to the time of the Mexica, or ancient Mexicans.
Screen from the Conquest Showing the Very Noble City of Mexico (detail)
Oil on cloth, wood and metal
Late 17th Century
213 x 563 cm.
San Juan de Dios Convent and Hospital
The Hospital of the Destitute served as such until 1604, when the brothers of the San Juan de Dios hospital order took it over, continuing with the work of care and assistance that had distinguished it. During the era of the Johannine friars, in a time of economic bonanza, a new church was added to the hospital and it was completely remodeled, although the church was soon consumed by fire. In 1820 the monks were expelled from the hospital, after they had run it for more than 200 years.
From San Juan de Dios to the Women’s Hospital
The new era brought new fortunes for the hospital as well as new inhabitants, who modified the uses and traditions that had characterized it until then. During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, the building functioned as a military barracks, a girls’ school, a nunnery, the health ministry, an institute for attention to prostitutes and a syphilis hospital. At the same time, the church was used as the headquarters of the Official Gazette and as a Post Office. Toward the end of that period, the building was once again used as a hospital, offering care and treatment to women.
A New Era
With the arrival of the modern age the building took on a new role and, during the 1968 Olympic Games, became a host to a handicrafts exhibition, which became a permanent market until damage to the building forced its closure. In 1981 the federal government awarded the building to the Franz Mayer Cultural Trusteeship in order to establish a museum that, after a long and difficult restoration process, opened to the public on July 15, 1986.