Fonoteca Nacional

Av. Francisco Sosa 383, Santa Catarina, Coyoacán, 04010 Ciudad de México, CDMX

Preserving our recorded media sounds like a given and a redundant feat in today’s digital and internet world, yet what about those first recordings on precarious material? That’s why the Fonoteca Nacional (National Sound Library) was created in Mexico, in order to not lose with the passing of time those precious snapshots that are the closest thing to time travel. The Fonoteca Nacional rescues, restores, and preserves the sound heritage of Mexico after it was discovered that many of those delicate recordings were being lost due to carelessness and lack of awareness. So as part of its efforts, the Fonoteca seeks to promote this material recorded by past generations, so the general public can find the value in it and consider it as part of their national identity.

It was in 2004 when the public authorities ceded the Casa de Alvarado (“Alvarado House”) in Coyoacán to the Secretariat of Public Education, who then turned the property over to the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (“National Council for the Arts and Culture”) with the intention of creating this library dedicated to Mexico’s sound patrimony. The sound library would be the first of its kind in all of Latin America. The Casa de Alvarado went through laborious renovation work and the Fonoteca finally opened in 2008 as the new house of this fragile and unattended patrimony.

The Fonoteca Nacional divides its collection mainly into the broad categories of radio, music, voice, sonic landscapes, art in sound, and also books and other periodic publications dedicated to the sound heritage of Mexico. The total collection totals some 246,000 items and it periodically makes new discoveries, such as when the voice of Frida Kahlo was rediscovered by the Fonoteca just a few years ago; in it, she reads a passage of her own writing physically describing her partner Diego Rivera.

The Fonoteca Nacional is located in the beautiful street of Francisco Sosa in Coyoacán, a couple of blocks away from the Metro station “Viveros” of Línea 3. The Casa Alvarado is considered a landmark of the city, it’s a building from many centuries ago and features a Moorish and Andalusian architectural style. This colonial residence was the residence of Pedro de Alvarado, who has been recognized as one of Hernán Cortes’s most ruthless and bloodthirsty henchmen.


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