British Council operations in Mexico began in 1943 with the arrival of KG Wilson as Director of the Anglo-Mexico Institute in Mexico City. Through the 1940s and into the 1950s the British Council provided teaching, exam services and a library. Scholarships, though not large in number, were also important for cultural exchange. Arts activity centred on films being loaned and shown throughout Mexico.
During this period, one of the major exhibitions was from Henry Moore art in 1950. Moore was one of the leading sculptors of the 20th century and was significantly influenced by Pre-Colombian art, giving his work special resonance in Mexico.
In 1954 the British Council relocated to 127 Antonio Caso in Mexico City. There became a demand for teaching and a further move to larger premises was necessary. In 1954 HRH the Duchess of Kent laid the foundation stone of a new building designed by renowned Mexican architects Enrique de la Mara and Felix Candela.
The new building opened in 1962, and was celebrated with the visit of the Old Vic Theatre Company from London, featuring Vivian Leigh, famed stage actress and star of Gone with the Wind. The first public lecture at the new site was given by English poet Stephen Spender.
In 1964 conductor and composer Sir Malcolm Sargent visited to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra. The Duke of Edinburgh visited in 1965, presenting the Mexican government with a Henry Moore sculpture, referencing the success of Moore’s 1950 exhibition.
In 1965 a new branch was opened in Mexico City to accommodate the increased demand. Scientific visits were flourishing as were science scholarships. In terms of cultural activities, the late sixties saw a visit to Mexico by composer Benjamin Britten and his musical companion and collaborator, tenor Peter Pears. Many events also occurred during the 1968 Olympics, which were hosted in Mexico City.