When my parents were visiting we decided to check out some of the museums that Montevideo had to offer. We started off the day by walking down 18 de Julio, the major street heading towards Ciudad Vieja (old town). The street hits Plaza Independencia, which contains the mausoleum of General José Artigas topped by a magnificent statue of him on a horse.
From the plaza we took Sarandi Street, a pedestrian walkway, and wandered into the heart of Ciudad Vieja. Sarandi is full of shops, restaurants, and people selling things from stands. We made our way to 25 de Mayo which is apparently a street of museums.
Our first stop was the MAPI (Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indígena) ,which contained precolombian and indigenous art from South and Latin America. The collection that was open was fairly small, but well taken care of. The building in which the collection is housed was beautiful with a marble stairway leading up to the second floor and skylights in the ceiling. It appeared that the museum’s collection was much larger than what was on display and that they were renovating the second floor to house the rest of the collection. Thoughts: Small, but educational, cost = $30 pesos.
Our second stop was Museo de Artes Decorativas at the Palacio Taranco. This collection is housed in a beautiful mansion that was constructed in 1907 by the Taranco family. It was converted into a museum in 1972, and in 1975 was declared a historic monument. The collection was composed of numerous paintings and sculptures, furniture, tapestries, and musical instruments mostly of a french style. Another part of the museum is a fine collection of classical art and archeology in the basement. The specific exhibit contained artifacts involved in the making and storing of perfumes. Thoughts: Lavish, free.
Our third stop was Museo Romántico housed in yet another old house. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but once you go through the doorway it opened up into a beautiful courtyard. The museum (or at least the accessible parts) are in the upstairs living quarters. The collection is very lavish and has a couple of things I was not expecting including: an old opened music box, an old toiletry kit for traveling, and some nice pieces of furniture with inlayed wood. Thoughts: Small, free.
Our fourth stop brought us back to Sarandi street and the Museo Torres García. Torres García is one of Uruguay’s most famous artists. Born in Montevideo, he and his family moved to Spain where he settled for a time in Barcelona and attended art school. He moved to New York for a period of time and eventually came back to Montevideo. He wrote numerous books about art theory. For more information on Torres García, check out wikipedia. The museum had a great collection of his sketches, water colors, paintings, and toys spread out over three floors. Thoughts: Interesting, bigger, cost = $60 pesos.
By this time it was well into the afternoon and we were exhausted and happily museum-ed out. There are many more museums in Montevideo that we’ll hopefully be able to experience before we leave.