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BROWNSVILLE — The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art invites the public to step into the ring with “Lucha Libre Mexicana: 90 Años De Historia.”
Lucha Libre is a form of professional wrestling developed in Mexico that features masked wrestlers performing rapid and technical wrestling maneuvers in the ring with a devoted fanbase.
The exhibit, now open and occupying the entire museum, incorporates photographs, magazines, masks, authentic costumes and other memorabilia from the Christian Cymet López Suarez Collection, exploring the evolution of Lucha Libre over its long and storied past since the sport was first professionalized 90 years ago in Mexico.
Think of it not as an unmasking, but as an invitation behind the curtain to see how this popular obsession and weekend cultural mainstay became the household name it is today.
This tribute to Lucha Libre features over 200 pieces and is just a small part of Suarez’s collection, said museum Executive Director Deyanira Ramirez.
Ramirez said this is the first time the collection will be available to the public in the United States.
“This exhibition represents a journey that has been carefully curated to provoke curiosity and transport you through history. Mexican wrestling is colorful, has characters, fans and a lot of cultural history — so we are here to share those 90 years of history,” Ramirez said in her introductory speech for the exhibit’s VIP opening event on June 8.
The exhibition focuses not on any one specific wrestler, but showcases how the hundreds of wrestlers that stepped foot into the arena, and the items created for and around them, came to reflect how the sport changed over the decades.
Looking through the extensive collection and curating it down to the present exhibit was something of an undertaking, according to volunteer curator Teodoro Estrada, who along with a team of volunteers selected and installed the items in the exhibit.
This exhibition represents a journey that has been carefully curated to provoke curiosity and transport you through history. Mexican wrestling is colorful, has characters, fans and a lot of cultural history — so we are here to share those 90 years of history.
In curating the collection, Estrada said the focus was to create an exhibit that followed the timeline of Lucha Libre and display the artifacts in a way that would appeal to children as well as adults and also convey to viewers how wide of an umbrella art can be.
“I want people to understand that art covers a very wide span. A lot of times we think that sports is not part of art, but I want people to know that sports and everything can be exhibited as an art artifact,” Estrada said.
In addition to the exhibition itself, the museum has arranged several activities to bring Lucha Libre fans and newcomers to the museum for the exhibition — from mask-designing contests for children ages 6 to 17 (with professional luchadores judging and creating the masks of the two winners), presentations by several famous luchadores, Lucha Libre matches and film screenings of popular Lucha Libre films from Mexico.
The Mexican Consulate in Brownsville partnered with the museum to provide three Lucha Libre films from the collection of Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for screenings starting in July: “Santo en el Museo de Cera”, “Santo y Blue Demon en la Atlantida” and “Anónimo Mortal.”
“Lucha Libre Mexicana: 90 Años De Historia,” is on display through July 29. For more information about the exhibition, connected events or museum hours visit www.bmfa.us.