What if you had around $69 billion dollars and wanted to do something special for your country? What do you think would be suitable?
The world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, is the son of Lebanese immigrants who went to Mexico in the early 1900s and made their life there.
At 12 Carlos made his first successful investment and hasn’t looked back since. He has always been eager to give back to the country that has given him so much and is included on the ‘World’s Biggest Givers’ list. Although he generally is involved with helping in the health and education sectors, last spring he wanted to do something very special, so he ‘stepped out of the box’.
Carlos decided that since many people would never have the opportunity to travel to Europe, he would bring the work of the masters to them. He built a museum, filled it with his enormous private art collection, and then opened it to the public, free of charge.
It is hard to say what is most impressive, the wrapping or the gift itself. Housed in an 80 million dollar architectural marvel, the Soumaya museum has an estimated 700 million dollars worth of 15th – 20th century European and Mexican artwork inside.
The museum hosts the largest private Rodin collection (many of them are bronzes cast many years after Rodin’s death), the largest Latin American collection of Salvador Dali sculptures, and the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic and colonial coins. And of course, there are many amazing original paintings by famous artists such as Vincent Van Gogh (my all-time favourite).
At the entrance of the Soumaya Museum, there is a sign saying that everyone is welcome, no one will be denied entrance. To think that everyone, rich or poor, has the opportunity to see this wonderful collection moves me. I think that many lives will be made better for having this chance. There are free art classes offered on weekends and adults and children alike are learning about art first hand.