Carlos Slim,Mexican billionaire and the world's richest man,unveiled the new Soumaya Museum in Mexico City last month to rave reviews. Featuring fine art and free admission for all,the museum's expenses will be covered entirely by the Carlos Slim Foundation. In fact,Slim recently spoke with New York's Bloomberg News headquarters,stating "There will be no specific budget of a certain amount. There will be no limits. We will decide what needs to be done at the museum and just do it."
A striking,150-foot-tall,aluminum-plated structure,the Soumaya Museum was designed by architect Fernando Romero,who is Slim's son-in-law and who apprenticed under the respected urbanist and Pritzker Prize winning architect,Rem Koolhaus. It is named for Slim's late wife,Soumaya,and features six exhibition floors. It is part of a 12-acre development that is also scheduled to house Slim's corporate headquarters,which will include his Grupo Carso corporation,and Telcel,the Mexican mobile phone company he owns. In addition,a small shopping mall,upscale apartments and an underground theater are planned.
The museum will display works of fine art by 15th-century European masters,as well as pieces by Pablo Picasso,Diego Rivera and Salvador Dali,some of which will be pulled from Slim's own 66,000 piece collection. In addition,the Soumaya Museum will be home to the world's second largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures.
Slim played a strong role in the art that was chosen from his own collection,and designed the museum's logo - Soumaya in his own handwriting - as a way to put his personal stamp on the new venture. Slim's reputation as a philanthropist has been bolstered by the creation of the new museum. "This museum is for Mexicans who cannot travel outside of Mexico,so that they have a place to see this art in their country," he said.