Central Library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, ca 1960s
This unused postcard with the photograph of the Central Library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico, ca late 1950s, was part of the large collection of travel postcards shared by J & K. The card is identified as from Editorial Mexico, S.A.; Greeting Cards Created by Fischgrund and has this interesting, stylized two-headed snake logo, below, on the reverse.
Double-headed snake logo
The library building on the main campus of the Ciudad Universitaria, generally referred to as C.U., is ten stories high and covered with incredibly beautiful mosaic stone murals by the Irish/Mexican artist Juan O’Gorman (1905-1982). His paintings and murals often featured Mexican history, landscape and legends. Each wall of the Library features a different historical period. The per-Hispanic era occupies the north wall; the south wall features events from the Spanish colonial period; the east wall shows contemporary Mexico; and the west wall is devoted to the university itself. The mosaic was created using natural stones from Mexico with O’Gorman traveling from place to place to find the perfect stones. By using stones or tiles with natural colors the need to re-paint and renovate could be eliminated. The blue stones were the most difficult to find but he finally located some in a mine in Zacatecas. The murals offer a view into Mexican history including the progressive socialist movement going on during that time. Begun in 1948 the building took four years to complete with the stone murals covering 4,000 square meters or 40,000 square feet. The library opened in 1956. It was the largest mural or set of murals ever attempted.
There are several other buildings on the campus but the library is perhaps the most famous. The library contains approximately 428,000 books, has book loan services, online searching and downloadable digital content is available to all the students and academics of the University. Today trees have grown up obscuring parts of some of the murals but it is still spectacular. Imagining the time and precision it took to place each stone is staggering. It is considered O’Gorman’s masterpiece and a testament to Mexican history.
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