Museo Tamayo de Oaxaca, an enclosure in conflict


The Government of Oaxaca took control of the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art to its reopening to the public under his rectory.

In an interview, the head of the State Secretary of Cultures and Arts (SECULTA), Víctor Cata, reports that possession of the venue, closed since 2020 because of the pandemic, took place on December 1, 2022.

An action that the previous owner of the museum does not endorse.

Founded in 1974, the venue houses the pre-Hispanic art collection of the Oaxacan was directed by Alicia Pesqueira de Esesarte sinse then until her death in July 2019.

That year, the manager’s son, Enrique Esesarte, a member of the board of trustees, took over the reins of the space, and today he disapproves the action of the Oaxacan government.

He argues that the board of trustees, created in 2016 as a civil association, is the only entity guaranteed for its management.

“(The Government of Oaxaca) took the museum by assault,” he accuses in an interview, and says that he is no longer allowed to enter his offices in the compound, where he worked for nine years.

Esesarte, on the other hand, denounced the disinterest towards the museum shown by the Government of Alejandro Murat, which ended on November 30, 2022, and by its four Secretaries of Culture, who never responded to the requests of the board of trustees to formalize a collaboration, nor was there any dialogue with the current Administration, headed by Salomón Jara, as he points out.

“Now the State Government arrives and takes over the museum,” says Esesarte.

Esesarte, on the other hand, has been accused of trying to manage the property as a private entity with public resources.

During the confinement, for example, he organized private visits to the museum at a cost of 2,000 pesos. He assures that they were visits with permission from the board of trustees and that all those resources entered it.

“The money was used for museum expenses; they were very few (visits) and very sporadic,” he added.

He rejects misuse and ensures that all action is with a view to benefiting the space, which has some 800 pieces on display and some 300 in the warehouse, according to an inventory prepared by INAH about 5 years ago.

According to Esesarte, 300,000 pesos have been allocated for maintenance, a perimeter fence, and the purchase of a polishing machine, and despite the humidity in rooms 4 and 5, the property is, he said, in “magnificent condition.”

The façade, however, looks neglected, as REFORMA documented on a visit.

Esesarte defends his management, and assures that he has no intention of staying either.

“What we have proposed is a joint participation in the administration of the museum. That is what we have proposed: achieve a collaboration agreement between the State Government and the board of trustees so that the museum continues with the work it has had for 45 years “, he argues.

According to Cata, the museum is in a period of “internal opening” after the prolonged closure, time to make the necessary adjustments to reopen, but without setting a date yet.

They are already in the first phase, he adds, and they go hand in hand with local and federal authorities.

Due to the prolonged closure, for example, the humidity affected parts of the property and some parts, “a few”, were also affected, according to the official. In this task, he has the advice of the Oaxacan Cultural Heritage Institute (INPAC) and INAH.

“The INBAL workers are already there, the custodians, the rooms are already open, but not for the public. By internal opening I mean that adjustments are being made,” adds the official.

Once these are concluded, the museum will be able to reopen, “as soon as possible.”

And he announces that a fund will be reactivated that must have sufficient resources for the maintenance of the museum, and its store, under a self-sustaining scheme.

“The instruction we have is to open museums with the State as rector, within the Ministry of Culture, which is responsible for appointing a director,” said the state official, an instruction that covers the Frissel Museum de Mitla and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca (MACO), which will also be maintained; The latter, although it has already reopened, was closed for a long time due to a labor dispute.

Laura Dada was appointed as manager of the Tamayo, whom Esesarte wanted to approach to discuss some of the needs of the facility, such as updating the IDs.

INBAL and the Government of Oaxaca signed a collaboration framework agreement in October 2019 that, among other actions, proposed turning the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art into a decentralized public body, dependent on the State, a letter that to date has not been compliment.

According to Esesarte, the facility remains in a legal limbo that goes back decades: Víctor Bravo Ahuja, who governed the entity from 1968 to 1970, and later he was Secretary of Public Education at the federal level from 1970 to 1976, would have allocated the patrimonial property of Morelos 503 for the artist to deposit his collection of pre-Hispanic art there, and once that was done, for the painter to return it to the town .

“But that was never done formally, there was never a delivery of the Tamayo to anyone, not to the INBA or to anything. So, when Víctor Bravo Ahuja left as Secretary of Education, he told the INBA to pay the museum’s payroll and nothing else .

“He left it in a limbo where there is no owner of the museum, and we want to solve that problem,” according to Esesarte.

REFORMA asked INBAL to report the amount disbursed to pay the campus payroll, and responded that, in 2022, it allocated 2 million 635 thousand 702 pesos for salaries and benefits of a staff of seven base workers and one employee with a position of trust.

Regarding the agreement signed in 2019, which proposed the incorporation of the museum into the State Government, Cata says that “he is in it with the legal adviser.”

“Given the problems that have arisen with previous governments and with this new Administration, clarification is sought on how (the museums) are going to work, and I am relying a lot on this with the legal adviser,” insists the head of the SECULTA.

According to him, there was already a first meeting with a representative of the board of trustees, Marcela Ferrer Bermúdez, Tamayo’s great-niece, who handed him a document with his collaboration proposal that is already in the hands of the legal representative and to which a response will soon be given.

“He plans to continue collaborating with the museum, and that’s fine, but it has to be done on a clear basis,” says the official.

The board of trustees counts among its members Tamayo’s three nieces: Rosa María, María Elena and María Eugenia Bermúdez, the latter mother of Ferrer Bermúdez.

“We are working on this with the legal advisor, I think it will include all those who wish to support the museum, but on very clear, very specific agreements, since the rectory of the museum corresponds to the State”, Cata settles, and reiterates that there is an opening to work with boards; he exemplifies it with the scheme with which the National Museum of Anthropology operates in Mexico City.

The objective is to give legal certainty and define the bases of collaboration with the board of trustees.

Source: Reforma