Franz Mayer has an special place as a collector in Mexican history. Born in 1882, in Mannheim, Germany, he moved to London at a very young age, where he lived for nearly two years. He arrived in the United States in 1903, and worked for Merryl Lynch Stock Exchange Company, arriving in Mexico in 1905. He got into the financial world at the age of 23. Around 1908, he had already enrolled as an agent of an independent stock exchange, thus beginning a promising career.
During the Mexican Revolution he left the country and went back to the United States, where he lived for two years, and returned to Mexico in 1913. In 1920, he married María Antonieta de la Macorra and became a widower a few years without descendents. He became a Mexican citizen on December 29 th 1933.
Franz Mayer was a man of multiple interests . He took photos of the cultural diversity of Mexico with his Leica camera: his photographic searches across Mexico represent the main body of is work, dating from 1928.
In 1926, news about the trips he made appeared in his diary, and the photos he took chronicle it. He took trips to Egypt and a record of the itinerary of his trip to the East was kept: to Malaysia, Ceylon, India, Java, China, Japan, and Korea. America would be his interest in 1927: Cuba, Peru, Bolivia, Panama, Chile, and Argentina.
Mayer organized the cultivation of the rarest and most delicate orchids from different parts of the world. He was a sports fan, practicing skiing, hunting and fishing. He lived for many years in a house in the Las Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood, in western Mexico City. There he had several rooms where he stored his collection registered by Gonzalo Obregón, a Mexican antiques dealer, who put together the first catalogue of the collection in 1953.
Since the 1950's, Franz Mayer had conceived the idea of donating his collection to Mexico (link to Franz Mayer collector) . Finally, in 1963 he set up a trust fund, the Bank of Mexico was chosen as the fiduciary for the establishment of an art museum in Mexico City. At the same time a sponsor was found among the people closest to him. According to the wishes of Franz Mayer, the contract established that the trusteeship would create a library, organize exhibitions, competitions and conferences.
Franz Mayer died in 1975 and donated his collection to Mexico. The museum carrying his name was opened in 1986 in the former flour-weighing building, renovated in order to house this collection.