The Gertrudis Bocanegra Public Library in Patzcuaro

      One of the most highly recommended places to visit in Pátzcuaro is La Biblioteca Pública Gertrudis Bocanegra (it so close, you can actually see it from the balconies of Hotel Mansión Iturbe).

       The original building was constructed in 1576 as an Augustinian Convent.  Almost three hundred years later (1860), the State took control of it in 1882 and, in 1938, General Lázaro Cárdenas declared it the site for La Biblioteca Pública Gertrudis Bocanegra.

       In February 1941, the famous Juan O’Gorman began a monumental work that would take him a full year to complete:  painting the huge, historical, floor-to-ceiling mural on the far (north) inside wall of the enormous library.

        Juan O’Gorman is known not only as a great muralist, but as a great architect, as well.  He is attributed with introducing functional architecture in Mexico, which was influenced by the renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. 

      As an architect, Juan O’Gorman worked on several projects in Mexico City, including the House Studio Museum of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.  He also established the engineering architect discipline in the National Polytechnic Institute.

     Juan O’Gorman was also a disciple of Diego Rivera – the second generation of muralists in the Mexican Muralist Movement.  Perhaps O’Gorman’s most famous work is his gigantic mural in the Public Library in Pátzcuaro.  Also of note are his alterpieces of the Mexican Independence and Revolution movements in the National History Museum in the Chapultepec Castle.

            The Public Library in Pátzcuaro is a fine source of information as to the region’s art, architecture, and culture.  But it is Juan O’Gorman’s commanding mural at the far end of the enormous room that attracts countless admirers.  Not only is it an epic work of art, it is also a breathtaking visual example of Michoacan’s pre-Columbian history.  In it are depicted the arrival of the Spanish, Don Vasco’s evangelism work, and Mexico’s independence and revolution.  This enormous work of art, measuring 14 meters high by 12.7 meters wide, dominates the entire northern wall – floor to ceiling – of the cavernous library.

     The Mural, however, was not exactly a slam-dunk.  The prominent American businessman Edgar J. Kaufman from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, originally retained Mr. O’Gorman to paint a similar mural in the US but, given the unpopular left-wing politics of the artist and the wave of unpopularity it would wreak on Mr. Kaufman, Mexico was chosen instead as the site for the mural.  O’Gorman respected Mr. Kaufman’s decision and a search for a more appropriate venue was begun:  In 1941, he began the famous mural on the north wall of the Public Library of Pátzcuaro.

     Far from a stuffy, moth-infested 500-year-old library, the Public Library in Pátzcuaro is dynamic and full of life.  There, you will find youngsters and adults reading, perusing books, surfing the Internet, and doing homework.  Also, thanks to “Friends of the Library,” you will also find local expats doing the same, as well as checking out a respectable selection of English-language literature, or tutoring locals in English.

            Library employees are thrilled to help visitors, and they go out of their way to offer information, orientations, and answer your questions regarding anything relating to Pátzcuaro.

      If you want information on Night of the Dead, Holy Week, Christmas, or other significant dates on the Pátzcuaro calendar, the Public Library is your source.

      There is nothing that better visually embodies the richness of the history of the region than Juan O’Gorman’s fantastic mural, and what better venue than the venerable Public Library.  It is Hotel Mansión Iturbe’s Number One Must-Do in Pátzcuaro.

Pictures and Text property of Hotel Mansion Iturbe

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Portal Morelos 59
Plaza Vasco de Quiroga
61600 Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. MEXICO
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Tels: +52 (434) 342 0368 y 342 3628
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