A Former Orphanage Turned Art Museum – Cabanas Cultural Institute, Guadalajara, Mexico

Many people normally would not describe a building as being particularly “special,” (unless you built it!) however; there is one very special building in the cosmopolitan city of Guadalajara, Mexico that is certainly worthy of the title.

Upon entering the Cabañas Cultural Institute you’ll find this to be true because of the rich history of the building and also because the Institute is home to some of the most fascinating Mexican murals by the late and brilliant muralist Jose Clemente Orozco.

The building was named after its founder and financial backer Bishop Juan Ruiz de Cabañas.

Something so very endearing about this wonderful treasure in Guadalajara is that it was originally built to provide a home for orphans, the poor, handicapped and the elderly.

To no surprise, it became a World Heritage site in 1997 and can be described by many as being “simply breathtaking!”

The Cabañas Cultural Institute is affectionately known by many of the elders in Guadalajara by its previous name of Hospicio Cabañas (Cabañas Orphanage). If you ask many of them, one or two may fondly recall passing by to see little children playing happily.

The construction of this special building began in the early 1800’s under the supervision of architect Manuel Tulsa and its doors were opened in 1810 to the first orphans while still under construction. Unfortunately, the construction had to stop temporarily due to the War for Mexican Independence (1810-1821) and wasn’t finished until around 1845.

In 1937 Jose Clemente Orozco (Jalisco native) was invited by the government to paint the chapel of the Institute which he later completed in 1939.

The Cabañas Cultural Institute is now used as a cultural promotion center and offers classes as well as tours of the awe inspiring large scale murals by Orozco including his world famous mural Man of Fire (Hombre de Fuego).

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