Mayer began to collect art, he focused on the viceregal period,
the three centuries when Mexico was ruled by Spain. At a time
when most Mexican collectors favored Precolumbian or modern art,
Franz Mayer was intrigued by the colonial period.
brought together his artist's eye, his financial resources, and
his delight in making deals. He visited Mexico City's many antique
shops and went to a famous flea market called La Lagunilla. He
worked with agents around the world to find works for his collection,
and purchased art at auction houses in London and New York. Franz
Mayer constantly refined his collection, buying works of the highest
quality, selling those that did not meet his high standards. His
art collection was paralleled by an outstanding library of books
on painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. He subscribed
to the important art journals of the day.
lived a very long life, dying in 1975 at the age of 93. He left
his collection and his estate in trust at the Bank of Mexico in
order to establish a "an art museum in Mexico City."
The trustees of his estate were able, most appropriately, to purchase
a former hospital building from the colonial period in the central
district of Mexico. The Museo Franz Mayer opened in 1995, displaying
superb colonial art in an outstanding example of viceregal architecture.