Museo Leon Trotsky
A Marxist iconoclast, strongly opposed to Stalin's dictatorship, the “great thinker” Leon Trotsky will forever be remembered as a political exile; leader of the “Red Army” and a man perceived by Stalin to be the biggest threat to his ideal of “socialism in one country”. Revered by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky found his friendship to be of great benefit when he and wife Natalia were forced into exile in 1929. In 1939, the exiled couple became semi-permanent guests of Diego Rivera at “Blue House”, mere yards from their subsequent abode on Viena Street. Fortified by heavy gates and three watchtowers, Casa de León Trotsky would be their final home – today, an almost unaltered domestic museum, within which Trotsky lived out the last year of his life.
Coyoacán - a quiet, leafy neighborhood in the Central West of Ciudad de Mexico sets the backdrop for one of Mexico's most famous domestic museums. Lined by upscale apartment blocks and contemporary villas, Viena Street seems an unlikely retreat for one of the great political activists of the 20th Century, yet here, behind the walls of a huge compound, lies the 19th Century house Trotsky called home for the last year of his life. Manicured lawns, towering cypress trees and flourishing cacti decorate the immaculately preserved gardens where Trotsky himself now rests in peace. His monumental gravestone (located at the far North of the), carved with the Communist hammer and sickle emblem, is a modest tribute to the man whose very ideals, led to his untimely demise.
Austere and somewhat gloomy compared to the finery one might have imagined, Casa de Leon Trotsky has little changed in nearly eighty years. The now infamous study, within which the pick axe murder of Trotsky occurred (at the hands of Stalinist agent Ramón Mercader) still features the compulsively neat desk at which Trotsky was often photographed. A lifelike bust of the Russian dissident tops a bookshelf, from which his walking stick still hangs; a map of the world adorns one white stucco wall and various folded newspapers occupy a mantle in the far corner of the room. It's almost impossible to believe this is the very room Trotsky met his fate, save for the slightly bent wire-rimmed glasses now resting on his desk.
A never ending maze of dark corridors and minimally furnished rooms, Casa de Leon Trotsky is a stark contrast to the energy and color of his speeches. Several Diego Rivera murals still decorate the main hallway, however the adjacent museum now offers a rather more detailed glimpse of Trotsky's life. Personal artifacts once belonging to the dissident and his wife now rest in glass cases, including their passports, driving licences and correspondence with key supporters of their cause. Sepia photos portray a family man, committed to his wife and children, with a love for animals and fine art. The early years of his friendship with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are also portrayed extensively - though few exist beyond their alleged falling out in 1938. He was enigmatic, opinionated and tireless, yet this small exhibition portrays a very different side of a man, once the most feared and revered in Russia.
Located at Viena 45, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, D.F., Mexico
This museum is free.