Top choice in Tulum

Wandering barefoot through the contemporary art museum at Azulik hotel, you feel like you’re in a giant cocoon. Nature surrounds you, inside and out: Curving walkways and bridges made of the vine-like bejuco wood guide you past mind-bending artwork, while the undulating cement walls open here and there to bright skies and dense tropical forest. Dreamlike and surreal, SFER IK Museion was conceived so viewers could experience world-class art alongside Tulum's natural elements; it does just that, heightening your experience of both the art and the space. Utterly unique and completely unexpected, a visit here is unmissable.

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The unusual art musum is the perfect backdrop for peaceful viewing © Marcia Lazzaron / Shutterstock 


The award-winning SFER IK Museion was designed by Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, better known as ‘Roth,’ who also founded Azulik, the luxurious eco-hotel where the museum is located. An Argentinean ex-pat, former visual artist and self-taught architect, Roth created the space as a natural extension of Azulik. And like the hotel, with its treehouse-like villas and restaurant, the museum manages to integrate a boho-chic vibe with a reverence for the land and the ancestral people who have inhabited it for centuries.

Walking through SFER IK you can’t help but be impressed by its 12-meter-high dome structure with curving ferrocement walls and swirling bejuco-lined walkways; trees growing out of the floor reach for openings in the ceiling, while giant circular windows look out onto the tropical forest just beyond the glass. Almost more remarkable is that all of it was built without using heavy machinery or even a blueprint, and it employed Maya craftsmen using traditional building techniques.

Notably, visitors must be barefoot to enter the museum – a detail designed to force you to interact physically with the spectacular structure and, in turn, to heighten your awareness of all that surrounds you. Thick, round, monochromatic cushions are set out on the gallery floor too, inviting you to sit and take it all in – the building, the works of art and yourself as an integral part of it all.


SFER IK Museion was inaugurated in April 2018. Originally called IK Lab, Roth completed the structure in 2017, but had not decided on its use. That same year, Santiago Rumney Guggenheim, the great-grandson of art collector Peggy Guggenheim, visited the unoccupied space and proposed a joint venture to transform it into a gallery. The two had never met but within hours of receiving the proposal, Roth agreed. Since then, SFER IK has showcased several prominent international artists and attracted countless visitors (and Instagram posts). It also periodically hosts creative conferences and community workshops.

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A place to be immersed in the art, take your time as you wander through the gallery © Photo Spirit / Shutterstock

Meaning of SFER IK Museion

Pronounced ‘spheric,’ the name SFER IK refers to the curving structure of its design – there are no right angles, flat walls or straight lines in it. Also, the word ‘Ik’ is Yucatec Maya for ‘wind,’ which is associated with dreamers, the imagination and the creative; and no doubt, it is a reference to ‘Azulik.’ Finally, ‘Museion’ is the ancient Greek word for ‘temple of the muses’ – an appropriate name for a place that seeks to inspire.  

Exhibits and Programming

SFER IK presents ever-changing exhibits throughout the year. The vast majority are site-specific installations, meant to join and interact with the museum’s striking design – there’s artwork hanging from ceilings, attached to the walls, sitting on the cement floor; some are created to be touched, others to be smelled, many just to be contemplated from a cushion a few feet away. The goal: to encourage visitors to be present to the art by making them move around, above and under the pieces. The hope is to inspire visitors to reflect on the interconnectedness of the works of art with the museum, Tulum’s natural environment and the viewer themselves.

Beyond the temporary art installations, SFER IK is home to a small permanent collection that includes works by such celebrated artists as Ernesto Neto and Artur Lescher. The museum also hosts a variety of conferences and workshops each year, ranging from symposia on new uses for the sargassum seaweed to ceramics classes for local kids.

Note: A second cultural complex, SFER IK – Uh May, opened in November 2018. (Construction had already begun when SFER IK Museion in Tulum was inaugurated.) Located along the road to Cobá Ruins, it’s similar in design and philosophy to SFER IK, but it’s much larger, integrating an artist-in-residence program.

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The undulating walls mean there are no sharp corners or angles in the space © Photo Spirit / Shutterstock /


Admission costs US$10 and can be purchased onsite or online. Kids under 12 enter for free but must be accompanied by an adult (one child per adult). The museum is open daily, year-round.

Things you should know

  • Visitors must remove their shoes to enter the museum – it’s an integral part of the experience.
  • Cell phone photography is free. Any other camera use (i.e. DSLR, GoPro, etc.) costs US$100 per visit. Selfie sticks and tripods are prohibited.
  • Leave your big beach bags at home – anything larger than 40cm x 40cm isn’t permitted in the museum.

Getting there

SFER IK is located on the grounds of Azulik, an eco-chic hotel on the southern end of Tulum’s beach road. It’s accessible by bike, a ‘Cabañas’ route colectivo (shared van, M$15) or taxi. If you drive, there’s valet parking (US$5) or you can try your luck finding a spot along the road. 


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