National Art Museum (Museo Nacional de Arte) is at Calzada Tacuba #8, directly e. of the Palace of Fine Arts (M: Bellas Artes, lines 2 and 8). This outstanding museum, formerly the Palace of Communications and Public Works, has 33 exhibit halls displaying national art treasures. The halls are large and uncluttered, focusing on just one or two magnificent pieces per wall. Works include paintings, sculptures, pre-Columbian figures, metal work and even ornately framed video screens that flicker with constantly changing images. One surprising and fun exhibit is a video of an apartment building showing residents beginning and ending their day.
Also noteworthy are the rooms devoted to 17th-century painters Juan Correa and Cristóbal de Villalpando, both of whom were inspired by the sensual style of Peter Paul Reubens, and 20th-century artist María Asúnsolo. Two elegant curved staircases at the back of the museum lead to the upper levels; at the bottom are two lions supporting a buttress with five lamps. The underside of one stairwell is decorated with the painting “Peace Defeating War.”
El Caballito (The Little Horse) stands in the center of the square fronting the museum. This 30-ton sculpture, the work of Manuel Tolsá, depicts King Charles IV of Spain astride his horse. It was cast in 1803 from a single piece of bronze.