Museo de la Filatelia de Oaxaca: An Unlikely Gem

A friend of mine is in Seoul today despite all the warnings about MERS. While he’s the one in the densely populated city of South Korea where they just reported the 23rd death from this respiratory virus, I’m probably a bit more worse for wear than he is. I woke up with a dull head, a sore throat, and a flurry of sneezes this morning. I suppose being in airplanes for so long and so often last month (10 flights, with the longest one at 12+ hours) was going to catch up with me eventually. It actually looks like a beautiful day here in Manhattan but I am putting myself under a quarantine, hoping whatever is ailing me will get out of my system quickly and I don’t infect anyone else. That means I am picking up where I left off in Mexico.. to a few places in Oaxaca that I really enjoyed visiting. One of them was a stamp museum.

Yes, I went to a stamp museum in Oaxaca.  And no, it’s not what most people who visit this lovely city typically put on their agenda. I was originally heading towards the gardens but I knew I would shrivel up like a raisin within minutes in the sun and humidity of midday Oaxaca. So I walked across the street and opted for the cool (and practically empty) stamp museum.

The security guard seemed a bit surprised to see a visitor but quickly waved me in saying entrance fees were donation based. The temporary exhibition was about humorous stamps, some with child-like cartoon images, some with deeper political messages.

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IMG_3803I noticed this set which depicted the mothers and grandmothers in Buenos Aires (Asociación Civil Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo) who since 1977 have been protesting in front of Casa Rosada for their children who “disappeared” during the Dirty War. When I lived in BA back in 2012 I learned some of Argentina’s history and of these women who still make this protest march each week wearing head scarves which have become a symbol of their fight.

IMG_3802The scarves are painted on the ground permanently in Plaza Mayor so even when the women are not physically there you are reminded of their cause.

P1050611I spent some time looking at stamps from all over the world and saw that they also had a nice library. The museum was larger than I thought! There was a lovely outdoor area in the back as well. It had a small cafe and there were a couple of ladies who were taking a tea break while a child did his school work. It was very peaceful and tranquil.

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Another room in the back had an exhibit entitled Arte Correo or Mail Art and the offices for the institute of historic organs of Oaxaca was next to it. But it was closed so picked up a pamphlet to learn more about it; they are dedicated to restoring and protecting old organs in Oaxaca. Their website is full of interesting information about these musical instruments that date back hundreds of years. There is even a map of where the organs are are in the state of Oaxaca (70+ of them) but now I’m way off the course. Back to stamps…

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While I liked the museum overall, the room I was most fascinated by was the bóveda, the vault where there were a number of letters Frida Kahlo wrote to her friend and doctor Leo Eloesser.

IMG_3810In these letters you can read about some of her medical problems (spine issues, inability to have children, etc) but also about her plans, her daily life, relationships, and her well-being. What a gem, right?  Perhaps if I knew about its existence beforehand, I wouldn’t have been so delighted to have stumbled upon it…

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But I hope more people will discover this place and enjoy it as much as I did. The stamp museum in Oaxaca is absolutely worth a visit!

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Museo de la Filatelia de Oaxaca: Reforma 504, Oaxaca, Mexico. www.mufi.org.mx

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This entry was posted in 2015, Mexico, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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