The Memory and Tolerance Museum: Fostering Tolerance Through Historical Memory

The Memory and Tolerance Museum (Museo Memoria y Tolerancia) has been around for less than 10 years, but it is no surprise that it is already recognized as one of the 10 best museums in Mexico City by a number of organizations and media. Founded in 2010, the museum is dedicated to

  • Illuminating the importance of tolerance, nonviolence, and human rights
  • Creating awareness through historical memory, particularly regarding genocides and other crimes
  • Raising consciousness about the dangers of indifference, discrimination, and violence to foster responsibility, respect, and conscience in each individual

Permanent exhibits at the museum include the Memory Section, where visitors can learn about horrors of the past in order to preserve the memory of the victims as well as work to prevent history from repeating itself. Alongside is the Tolerance Section, which guides the visitor on a new method of tolerance. It is not the 16th- and 17th-century definition of resignation or condescendence, but an active tolerance. It is one, according to the spirit of our times, that accepts diversity as an ever-present force and the need for inclusion and dialogue.

The museum additionally offers temporary exhibits focused on various aspects of social justice and historical memory. Past exhibit titles include "LGBT + Identity, Love and Sexuality," "Breaking Walls: Migrants and Refugees. A Challenge for Humanity," and "Femicide in Mexico. Stop!"

In addition to its plethora of exhibits, more than 56 to date, the museum offers educational tours and programming from students as young as preschool to students earning their bachelor's degrees.

The museum’s Mexico Hall

NGOsource's Role

The museum first went through the equivalency determination (ED) process with NGOsource in 2015. Since then, two additional funders have requested EDs for the museum, some of them multiple times over the years. Aidee Padilla, the fund procurement officer of the museum, notes that receiving an ED from NGOsource allowed the museum to "establish strong strategic alliances with internationally renowned foundations such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation, which have supported some of the museum's major projects."

NGOs like the museum benefit from the enhanced credibility that the ED process provides. NGOsource's streamlined process additionally allows both grantmakers and NGOs to spend more time and energy on programs and deepening grantmaker-grantee relationships.

Learn more about the ED process.

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Mass violations to human rights exhibit in the museum’s Mexico Hall

ED in Action

The museum put its funding facilitated through the ED process to good use. One of the initial projects the Ford Foundation funding supported was a temporary exhibition about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was very well-received. Kellogg Foundation funded this exhibition as well, but it was also one of the most important investors in the new Tolerance Section.

The museum later revamped its Tolerance Section to include a digital survey about discrimination that displays statistics in real time. The exhibit also includes a digital display that classifies positive and negative news posted on social media networks in order to inform visitors about the impact of digital mass media. The project was recognized with the Silver Prize of Digital Interactive Installations of the Festival of Audiovisual International Multimedia Patrimony hosted by the International Council on Museums.

The museum continues to forge ahead with new projects focused on awareness, diversity, and social justice with two upcoming initiatives. The first is an itinerant museum that will tour a number of cities in Mexico. Its aim is expanding the museum's message to those outside of Mexico City and providing education on the historical memory of human rights and the culture of peace.

By the end of 2019, the museum will also host a temporary exhibit addressing the causes and consequences of climate change. The exhibit's dynamic tour will include direct messages, facts, data, and testimonies. After its display in the museum, the exhibit will travel from one city to another as part of the museum's goal to expose as many individuals as possible to the exhibit's message.

Action is born out of informed knowledge, and the Memory and Tolerance Museum is an incredible example of an organization ensuring that others have the opportunity to learn from the past and present in order to change the course of the future. 

Top photo: The Memory and Tolerance Museum’s façade

All images used with permission from the Memory and Tolerance Museum © 2019.