The Frida Kahlo Museum Says No, It Did Not Let Madonna Wear the Artist’s Clothes

She wasn’t even at the museum, said the institution.

Madonna speaks onstage during the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo: Jeff Kravitz/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS.

You would think that when Madonna visited Mexico City, the pop star would be sure to schedule a visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum. The artist famously collects the artist’s work, notably her painting My Birth (1932). “If somebody doesn’t like this painting,” Madonna told Vanity Fair in 1990, “then I know they can’t be my friend.”

And you could be forgiven for thinking that the pop megastar had dropped by, judging by an Instagram post of hers from yesterday.

“A Beautiful Souvenir—visiting the family home of my Eternal Muse—Frida Kahlo. In Mexico City,” the pop star wrote. “For me it was magical to try on her clothes and jewelry, to read her journals and letters and to look at photos I’d never seen before.” 

In the slideshow, the Queen of Pop poses in a shawl, mesh gloves, a ring, and a necklace; one close-up even reveals Kahlo’s face painted on her thumbnail.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Madonna (@madonna)

While there were many worshipful comments about both the musical artist and the painter, many took the “family home” to refer to the Frida Kahlo Museum, namely La Casa Azul, or the Blue House, so called for the color of its walls. According to the museum’s website, Kahlo spent most of her life there. 

The backlash in the comments against both the singer and the museum was swift.

“You can be Madonna as much as you like, but trying her clothes?!” wrote artist E. Cecilia Moreno Pogodina. “I’m mexican, and I can almost assure you they would NEVER let a mexican do that.”

“I don’t know what is worse: the audacity of allowing her to wear Frida’s sacred garments, or Madonna’s audacity and arrogance of daring to wear them,” wrote Mariale Montiel. “Sacrilegious and unacceptable!”

“Frida’s clothes and jewelry wow that is a mexican national treasure, i wonder how much she paid to those running the [museum] to get that special treatment,” said Pilly Alvarado. “I love madonna, but i love Frida Kahlo more, it is a travesti [sic] in my own opinion to let her do that, but i guess money buys anything you want. Shame on [the museum].”

But if you are a conservationist at heart, take heed: the museum has taken to the same social media platform to clear things up. Despite Madonna’s post, said the institution, she was never even there. 

“It is important to clarify that, contrary to what has been mentioned in some media, Madonna, due to scheduling constraints, was unable to visit ‘La Casa Azul’ during her recent visit to Mexico,” said the museum. (Family and some staff, it added, did in fact stop by.)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Museo Frida Kahlo (@museofridakahlo)

The museum also defended its stewardship of the Mexican artist’s personal effects. 

“The collection of Frida’s clothing and jewelry that we safeguard,” the museum added, “is subject to strict conservation measures and is exhibited in the museum, not loaned for personal use.”

Madonna’s representatives did not immediately answer a request for clarification of this discrepancy.

The episode echoes the outrage from 2022 when Kim Kardashian borrowed from a Ripley’s Believe It or Not the dress worn by Marilyn Monroe when she serenaded president John F. Kennedy and wore it on the red carpet at the Met Gala (though she changed when she got inside).

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics