The Museo Rufino Tamayo houses over 1,000 rare pre-Hispanic artifacts, including particularly fine Colima dogs, or xolos. Composed over a period of 20 years, the contents of the museum were once the private collection of the modern Zapotec artist Rufino Tamayo, whose own work was influenced by pre-Colombian imagery. Tamayo began collecting in the 1940s; at a time when looting was rampant, he hoped to save the artifacts from illegal export. If you’ve toured a lot of anthropology museums on your trip, the Tayamo exhibits may be a breath of fresh air: the collection is not presented as archeological data but rather as a visual experience, an approach that encourages the viewer to see works of art instead of artifacts.
Inaugurated in 1974, The Museo Rufino Tamayo is housed in an 18th century mansion that is itself of historical note. A courtyard at the center of the museum offers seating where visitors can relax in an oleander garden planted around a stone fountain.