October 10, 2009 through April 12, 2010
From his humble childhood to the presidency of Mexico, the story of Benito Juárez (1806–72) is legendary. An indigenous Zapotec Indian, he was born in a small mountain village in the rural state of Oaxaca. At age twelve, Juárez left home for Oaxaca City, where he studied in the seminary before entering the Institute of Arts and Sciences to study law.
His political views were profoundly influenced by the ideals of the European Enlightenment, particularly the rule of law and self-government. Beginning in the late 1840s, Juárez set out to reform Mexico according to these ideals, a relentless pursuit framed by war. Juárez’s determined efforts transformed Mexico into a modern republic, making him a beloved national icon.
Benito Juárez and the Making of Modern Mexico is a ground-breaking exhibition, co-curated with the National Museum of Mexican Art. Over 25 national treasures from Mexico never before exhibited in the United States will be on display, including a bronze death mask of Juárez, an oversized painting of Juárez by Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, and his signature top hat and suit. Benito Juárez is presented in tandem with Abraham Lincoln Transformed; the two exhibitions are key elements in the Museum’s Lincoln Bicentennial year.