The fact that the UAEM Cultural Center is in Tlalpan might give observant visitors a clue to just how old it is. Way back when the town was still known as San Agustín de las Cuevas, in 1828, the Governor of Estado de Mexico, Lorenzo de Zavala founded a literary institute here in his state capital. It was called the Casa de las Piedras Milleras. Just two years later, the state capital was moved to Toluca where it’s been ever since. But the Casa stayed right here. San Agustín de las Cuevas was renamed Tlalpan at about the same time, but wouldn’t become part of the Federal District until 1855.
Technically, the Casa wasn’t always in this building. The building was occupied by the EdoMex state government. In 1986, the house was returned to the Autonomous University of Mexico State and opened as a cultural center soon after. It operates as an extension of a space of extension and diffusion for the academic-cultural manifestations carried out by the university community and the promotion of creators from the state, the country and abroad.
Today the Center has its work cut out for it, and seems to be doing a great job. The capital may never be entirely open to its enormous nearly surrounding neighbor putting up cultural competition. It was only that 1855 expansion of the capital, you’ll recall, that stopped EdoMex entirely surrounding Mexico City. But the Casa de la Cultura de la UAEM en Tlalpan does an honorable job. The center presents film and video, lectures, exhibitions and a regular slate of intellectually stimulating events. In fact, Tlalpan itself may share something of the feeling not being quite the center of the city. For all that history, the UAEM Cultural Center is still very much a welcome member in the old center of San Agustín de las Cuevas.