Part 21 of a month-long celebration of Women’s History Month
Ruth Rivera Marín (1927-1969) was born in Mexico City to famous parents, novelist María Guadalupe Marín Preciado and muralist Diego Rivera. As the first woman to enroll in the College of Engineering and Architecture at the National Polytechnic Institute, Marín graduated in 1950 as an engineer-architect. By that time she had already begun teaching painting, beginning a life’s work engaged broadly in the arts and arts education. After studying urban planning in Rome, in 1952 she returned to her alma mater as a teacher of architectural theory and urban planning. Through 1964 she led planning for the Mexican Secretariat of Public Education for rural schools and continued penning a significant body of scholarship with writings focused on architecture, urbanism, planning and heritage.
She also collaborated on the design of significant cultural institutions, including the Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL), El Museo Experimental El Eco, and the Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, all in Mexico City. The Anahuacalli Museum (above) was founded to house her father’s extensive collection of pre-Hispanic art and material culture. Built of black volcanic stone, its form follows traditional indigenous architecture, especially that of the Teotihuacan culture. Between 1959 and 1967, Marín exercised her interest in the maintenance of cultural heritage through a series of adaptive reuse projects including the Regional Artesan’s Museum and Cultural Center (formerly a prison), the Cultural Center Ignacio Ramírez (formerly a convent), the Museo de la Revolución (formerly a house) and the San Carlos Museum of European Painting (formerly a palace). Her interest in cultural institutions led to her association with many organizations, including the International Union of Women Architects (which she served as president). After her death, the Architecture Center at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes was named in her honor.