The Mexican millionaire and art collector Mauricio Fernández Garza has great plans for his collection of art and historical artifacts. Garza is building a museum to house these treasures, which he estimates are worth around $120m, so that the public can enjoy them as much as he does. The only problem is, he wants the public to pay their share, and not in entrance fees, but in building costs.
The idea first came to Fernández Garza when he was mayor of San Pedro Garza García, a wealthy city in Mexico near the urban center of Monterrey, according to the Associated Press. The report says the museum, which is a replica of Fernández Garza’s mansion in the mountains above the town, will cost $9.7m, 60% of which will be paid from public coffers. Garza himself is chipping in only $984,000, around 10%, with the remainder of around 30% being funded by private donations.
While many support the new museum, there are those who take issue with the fact that public funds are being used to house personal belongings, and that the decision to build the structure was made while Fernández Garza was a sitting mayor.
The administration of Fernández Garza’s successor, mayor Miguel Treviño, slashed the budget for the project, which was originally $18m, scrapped plans for two more museums dedicated to Fernández Garza’s collections and cut the amount of public space in the city’s Rufino Tamayo Park that was originally being allocated to the museum. Among the collection that the museum is being built for are a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo, an oil canvas by Diego Rivera and works by other well-known Mexican artists including Rufino Tamayo, José Clemente Orozco and Francisco Toledo, the report said.
For a time, Treviño’s administration completely halted the project, until Fernández Garza offered up sections of his mansion for use in the museum replica, including four ceilings from the 14th and 16th centuries that Fernández Garza claims are worth $50m.
“The discussion ended when we donated the ceilings, it was no longer a project to build something for my pieces, it is municipal heritage, I have no interest in using the municipality’s money for something of my own,” Fernández Garza told the AP.