Merida has some excellent museums to explore when you are in town.
On the south side of the Plaza Grande is the Museo de Casa Montejo at Calle 63 no. 506. This is a must for your list. Now owned by Banamex, this is a 16th Century home, built by Don Francisco de Montejo, with a wonderful façade. You can tour several of the rooms which have beautiful furniture and paintings. Through its Fomento Cultural Banamex, Banamex is a major supporter of traditional Mexican folk art. There is a wonderful store on the site selling works by some of the great artists working today. This is similar to the store they have in San Miguel de Allende.
Next to the Catedral, in the Pasaje de Revolucion, is the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Yucatan or MACAY. I really enjoyed the abstract works by Fernando Garcia Ponce and Gabriel Ramirez Aznar and a temporary exhibition of paintings, lithographs and sculpture. I would definitely recommend some time in the museum. There was also an architecture exhibition of award winning projects in the area. Outside of the older city center I was impressed to see some wonderful contemporary work being done.
A few blocks west of the Plaza Grande is Instituto de Cultura de Yucatan/Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatan at Calle 50 A No. 487. It is located on a lovely quiet square. I was impressed with a temporary exhibition on folk art featuring the 200th anniversary of the Revolution in 2010, and more impressed by the permanent collection in the upstairs galleries. I was pleased to see some of the same artists that I have in my own folk art collection. Stop in at the colorful Las Almendros, two doors down for a snack or break. You might just hear some live Trova music.
Museo Regional de Antropologia Palacio Canton, Paseo de Montejo 485, at Calle 43. This is a very interesting museum featuring exhibitions of the Mayan people of the Yucatan with many pieces featured that were excavated at the various temple sites. I was fortunate to listen to a lengthy description of the Mayan Calendar and the upcoming date of December 21, 2012 when the calendar ends by a US archaeologist. I hate to alarm you but according to him, this happened before around 3,000 BC and nothing happened then, so don’t charge a lot on your credit cards expecting the world to end and you won’t have to pay back the money. The Palacio Canton, also designed by Italian architect Enrico Deserti, is really gorgeous and there is an exhibit on the second floor showing the history of the home and the family who lived there.
Galeria Principal del Teatro Jose Peo Contreras: Located at the corner of Calle 60 and 57 this is a beautiful Opera house designed by an Italian architect Enrico Deserti and built between 1900 and 1908. On the left side of the lobby there is a temporary exhibition space, where I saw an excellent contemporary art show sponsored by the government.
On the North side of the Plaza Grande is the very green, Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Yucátan. The courtyard with murals by Fernando Castro Pacheco is worth the visit. Make sure to see the second floor for more murals and a beautiful ballroom richly decorated with more art by Pacheco. The views of the Catedral and the Plaza Grande are really good.