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The MALBA – Museum of Latin American Art

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Modern Art

“Well, this sucks”. We had just arrived in Mataderos, hoping to partake in the fun of its Sunday fair, but rain had forced its cancellation. Moping over a pitcher of Quilmes, we mulled over our options. “We’re on the other side of the city, but how about we catch a bus and go to the MALBA?”

Malba

You don’t really realize how big Buenos Aires is until you take a bus from Mataderos to Palermo. That mother took two hours. But it was an entertaining ride and, by the time we arrived at the MALBA, the sun had come out and was gleaming off the magnificent building. Designed by young Argentine architects from Córdoba and financed with private funds, the MALBA opened its doors in 2001.

Even if there hadn’t been any art inside the MALBA, it would have been fun to wander around. But there was plenty of art. The permanent Constantini collection is comprehensive; it seemed like every major Latin American artist of the last couple centuries was represented. I’m no expert in the field, but recognized many of the names: Frida Kahlo, Xul Solar, Fernando Botero, Diego Rivera. The collection was laid out chronologically, and a couple interesting temporary exhibits rounded things out. The size of the museum was perfect; small enough to see comfortably in an hour.

We finished our afternoon on the terrace of the museum’s cafe. By now, there wasn’t a cloud left in the sky, and the canceled Feria de Mataderos and our marathon bus ride seemed like distant memories. Amazing how a good museum can so quickly take your mind off any troubles. MALBA is one of the few must-see museums in Buenos Aires.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Art Factory Hostel

Malba Arte
Malba Art
Frida Kahlo
Sexy Art
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April 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm Comments (3)

Latin American Art in the Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco

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Valencia Blog

Around the corner from the ostentatious Palacio Paz is the much more refined Palacio Noël, home to the Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco. The palace would be worth seeing in its own right, but together with the museum, it’s one of Buenos Aires’ cultural highlights.

Museo Isaac Fernandez Blanco

Isaac Fernández Blanco was an engineer who, finding himself the beneficiary of a vast inheritance, went on a whirlwind shopping spree of the continent’s colonial-period art. From the outset, Blanco wished his collection to publicly accessible, so he opened up his house in 1921, calling it the Museum of Colonial Art. His daughter was the museum’s first guide.

In 1947, fifteen years after his death, Blanco’s museum was moved into the Palacio Noël. Designed and built in 1920 by architect Martín Noël as a private residence for himself and his brother, the city’s mayor at the time, the neo-colonial palace was a natural fit for Blanco’s collection.

Visiting the museum is an utter joy. You could do nothing more than hang out in the tranquil Andalusian patio, with its fountains, benches and trees, and leave satisfied. But then you’d miss an incredible collection of art from the colonial periods of Argentina, Peru and Bolivia. The museum is small, but with three floors and plentiful information about the exhibits, a comprehensive visit could easily consume a couple hours. Religious paintings from Cuzco, a room packed with colonial-era dolls, ivory figures, intricately-carved wooden furniture, a refurbished kitchen and costumes and clothing are just some of the pieces on display. Everything is tastefully lit and the palatial setting generates the perfect atmosphere.

Regardless of your level of interest in antique Latin American art, you won’t be disappointed in the museum. Entry costs just one peso, and it’s hard to imagine better value for that kind of pocket change.

Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco
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Granada Buenos Aires
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April 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm Comments (4)

Caballito – The Middle of the City

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Explore Buenos Aires

The geographic center of Buenos Aires is Caballito, a charming neighborhood with large green spaces, and well served by the Subte. Although it’s not on the top of the normal tourist itinerary, this barrio has enough highlights to make it worth a trip.

Centenario Buenos Aires

We began our excursion at the perfectly round Parque Centenario, designed by master urban planner Carlos Thays (also responsible for the Jardín Botánico). Though the park looked cool enough, we happened to arrive at the same time as a massive thunderstorm, and sought shelter in the Natural History Museum.

Nature History Museum

Along with approximately 39,403 screeching Argentinian rugrats, we drip-dried while looking at fossils, animal replicas and fish. The focus was on on native Argentine fossils and dinosaurs, such as the giant glyptodon, and it was fascinating to see the differences between prehistoric life here, versus in the USA. Their prehistoric monsters seem cuter, somehow. Though we hadn’t planned on a visit, the museum was a fun place to escape the rain. But if you’re allergic to children, you might want to stay away.

Once the downpour ceased, we walked along Avenida Rivadavia, a boisterous shopping street. It was a nice alternative to the more famous and ultra-touristy shopping zones in Retiro, with stores of comparable quality. And it was relieving to be surrounded by Argentines who weren’t continually shoving Tango Show fliers into our faces. We walked past the Parque Rivadavia, and browsed the offers at a second-hand book market. I bought an old Superman comic for a few pesos, and then sat down for a drink in El Coleccionista, a bar notable which still serves as a meeting place for different groups of collectors.

Book Market Buenos Aires

Fully rested, we ventured onto the other side of Calle Rivadavia and into the Mercado del Progreso. Behind its wonderful art deco facade is a lively goods and produce market, which has been a staple of the neighborhood since 1889. It was cool but we didn’t spend much time inside; the day was getting late, and we didn’t want to miss out on an historic tram ride.

The Tranvía Histórico de Caballito offers free trips around a small section of the neighborhood. Until 1963, trams had been one of the primary modes of transportation in Buenos Aires, linking the city’s 48 barrios to one another. Out-of-use tracks are still visible in between the cobblestones of many of the older streets, and the Asociación de Amigos del Tranvía seeks to remember this history by operating one last route. It’s a fun ride; a quick 20-minute trip into the romantic past.

Tram Ride Buenos Aires

The tram skirts around a section of Caballito known as the Barrio Inglés, long one of Buenos Aires’ most fashionable residential areas. The small area occupies just a few blocks, and has somehow survived intact into the present day. Built in the late 1800s as homes for British train executives, the Georgian- and Victorian-style houses are gorgeous, and cost a small fortune. This is one of those areas in Buenos Aires where vigilant security guards will watch your movements carefully.

Enjoy our pictures of Caballito! We’re making an effort to explore some of the less well-charted areas of Buenos Aires… if there are other great neighborhoods which not many tourists get to see, let us know!

Ducks
Stone Beast
Bird Argentina
Bird Collection
Flamingo
Insect Collection
See Stern
Skull
Blubber Beast
Simon Bolivar Buenos Aires
Lady and Sons
Beer Snack
Qiulmes
Market Buenos Aires
Malinesas
Market Caballito
Tracks Buenos Aires
Yellow Tram
Old Tram Buenos Aires
Tourist Tramway
Tramway Argentina
Tramway
Tramway Historico
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April 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm Comments (4)

The Museo Evita

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Evita the Movie

Just around the corner from Palermo’s Botanical Garden, the Evita Museum welcomes visitors with a big, toothy smile. We had been skeptical, but the quality of both the exhibits and the mansion won us over. The Museo Evita is really cool.

Don't Cry for me Argenina

Perhaps my initial skepticism was due to Andrew Lloyd Webber and company. When I think of Evita, the image that springs to mind is Madonna squealing discordantly to “her people” from the Casa Rosada’s balcony. I unconsciously associate Evita with over-the-top histrionics, and just assumed the museum would be as tasteless as the film.

But of course, María Eva Duarte Peron’s story is fascinating and, as one of history’s most important female political figures, she’s well deserving of a museum. The moment we entered the three-story Italian Renaissance mansion, I knew it would be a good experience. Evita purchased the house in 1948 as a part of her Social Aid Foundation, using it as a temporary home for poor women to “shelter those in need and those who have no home… for as long as necessary until work and a home can be found…”

In July 2002, exactly fifty years after Evita’s death, the museum opened to the public, and was an instant success. The exhibits are lovingly presented, and visitors learn about Eva’s life from her humble beginnings in Junín, through her rise to power, and her unfortunately early death. It’s almost entirely propaganda: you’re not going to find anything inside the museum about the darker sides of Juan and Evita’s rule. You can marvel over her fabulous dresses, but the very serious allegations of the couple’s fascist tendencies are politely left to the side.

But whatever. This is a place to remember and appreciate Evita’s positive deeds. You can get a sober analysis of history from books. And if you do happen to have a book with which you’d like to spend some time, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better place to do so than the museum’s cafe. With a gorgeous patio accessible from the street, you don’t even have to pay entrance to enjoy it.

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Evita Museum
Evita Dragon
Evita Restaurant
Museum Evita
Evita Silver Face
Eva Peron Fashion
Evita Hat
Evita Dress
Sexy Evita
Evita Kitchen
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Evita Souvenirs
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April 8, 2011 at 6:52 pm Comment (1)

The Museum of Modern Art

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Learn about Modern Art

Occupying an old tobacco factory on Avendia San Juan, the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (MAMBA) is an awesome museum with a bright future ahead of it.

Modern Art Museum Buenos Aires

The museum moved to the Piccardo Cigarette Factory in 1986, but has spent the last five years closed for renovations. In late 2010, it partially re-opened to the public, with a couple rooms full of exhibitions. When fully completed, the MAMBA will have over 7000 works and be the largest modern art museum in Latin America. But if you get there early, no bother: even in its reduced state, the MAMBA is worth seeing, especially considering the entry price of $1.

We’re always skeptical of modern art, often finding it pretentious and boring. Upon seeing be-scarved dandies nodding thoughtfully in front of a red square on the wall, I’m known to fly into a violent rage. Thankfully, the works on display in the MAMBA aren’t like that. Though they had just a couple rooms to work with, the museums curators have done a great job of selecting works that are interesting and aesthetically appealing.

The building itself is definitely worth the one-peso entry fee. Inside, a lovely steel staircase dominates the foyer, and the red brick factory truly stands out in the otherwise quaint, historic streets of San Telmo. In the building’s facade, the number 43 is mysteriously repeated over and over again. A little googling revealed that “43” was the name of the cigarette brand produced in the factory.

MAMBA’s Official Website
350 San Juan Ave
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Great Hostels in Argentina

Mamba
43 Cigars
Rollercoaster Stairs
San Telmo Art
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February 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm Comment (1)
The MALBA - Museum of Latin American Art
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