Argentina’s capital is home to some fantastic museums, even though most are primarily related to the arts. Whilst his may be understandable, considering the artistic talents of the country, it does leave a little to be desired by those who are after a more comprehensive insight into the country’s culture and history.
If you are a history buff, or have an even fleeting desire to learn and understand more about the country and its origins, we suggest you do a fair amount of reading before you even arrive. Only then could you hope to enjoy a more in-depth visit to painfully sparse institutions like the National History Museum or well-hidden treasures like the Ethnographic Museum. Nevertheless, do take note of the most popular museums in the city and, when you’re ready to take a shopping and feasting break, take your curiosity along for an interesting ride.
The Museum of Latin American Art plays host to an incredible mix of classic and modern art from every corner of the South American world. Alongside permanent displays, including invaluable works by Frida, Jorge de la Vega and Rivera, the museum also showcases some of the most exciting temporary displays of contemporary works by some of the best artists in the Latin world today. What started as a simple showing of a private collection, admittedly considered the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, has morphed into an amazing stage for Latino talent and vision.
The private museum is small but delightful, the building a striking example of modern architecture and the whole area indeed a pleasure to stroll through, so make sure to leave yourself a few hours to enjoy it all at leisure.
Ambrosetti Ethnographic Museum (Moreno 350)
Spend a few days wandering the streets of Buenos Aires and you could be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to honouring the indigenous inhabitants of its territory, Argentina is somewhat recalcitrant. Considering General Roca, the man responsible for the near-extermination of indigenous tribes in Patagonia, is still revered as a national hero, it’s not at all surprising that a museum dedicated to the native tribes of the land be a little less celebrated than most others.
The small but brilliant Ethnographic Museum is housed in a gorgeous town-house in Plaza da Mayo and showcases interesting artefacts and archaeological exhibits from all over the continent. The displays are well organized and contain everything from dugout canoes to intricate ancient jewels and a healthy amount of wooden artefacts and artwork. Entry is free but a donation will be well appreciated. All the displays are in Spanish but a detailed English pamphlet is available at entry upon request.
In a country boasting such a colourful history, one would think its National History Museum would be somewhat enlightening. Not so much in Buenos Aires we’re afraid.
Whilst the 19th century Italian villa the museum is housed in is splendid, and the area surrounding it blissful, the contents of the Museo Historico Nacional are quite sparse and somewhat lacking in substance. Nevertheless, if reading about the country’s history country in a book is not your thing, a visit here will be your next best option. You can admire some striking paintings depicting war scenes from Argentina’s past as well as a compact collection of documents, war memorabilia and personal effects of some of the country’s most famous historical figures. Most of the exhibits boast Spanish-only info-boards so a little prior knowledge of history would be highly beneficial.
Buenos Aires’ MACN (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales) is probably the best of the non-art museums in the whole city, and although it may take you a while to reach it considering it’s in the outer-suburb of Caballito, visiting will definitely be a worthwhile venture.
The dinosaur skeletons and ancient bones, as well as a fantastic amount of palaeontology exhibits, make this Natural History Museum a huge hit with kids and anyone who loves all things naturally old and fossilised.
The newly renovated and high-tech Galileo Planetarium is one of the most exciting new show-places in Buenos Aires and a truly amazing place to visit at night, as ridiculously obvious as that may sound. Whilst astronomy buffs will enjoy their journey into outer space within the walls of the observatory, all are bound to enjoy it from the outside as well. Get here after dark and you’ll be privy to an incredible multi-coloured light spectacle.
The five-floor planetarium, which is large enough to fit over 350 people and houses over 100 projectors, is able to outline almost 9,000 stars and constellations. Tickets for the nightly show must be purchased on the day and cannot be pre-booked.
The most surprising thing about the Eva Peron Museum in Buenos Aires is not the fact that it exists, the country’s reverence to the former First Lady is legendary, but rather the fact that it took almost five decades for it to come to fruition. Yet when one is reminded of the fact that this most enigmatic character of Argentine history actually attracted much controversy during her years in the spotlight (and for quite some time after her passing), it all starts to make sense.
Eva Peron’s life, struggles and achievements have always been hotly contested topics in Argentina, so one would assume that a museum dedicated to the fair lady offered a somewhat fair and balanced portrayal. After even a brief visit to the Evita Museum however, one can’t help but notice the positively favourable light in which the former First Lady is basked in. Knowing that the museum is effectively run by Evita’s descendants may help clear up any doubts as to why that may be.
In her eponymous museum Evita’s life is portrayed through the years; starting from her early childhood to her chase for fame in Buenos Aires, right up to her eventual transformation into a spiritual leader for millions of long-suffering Argentinians.
No matter what your personal opinion of Evita may be (or even if you have none at all) we strongly suggest you spend a few hours in this museum to at least understand just how influencing her persona has been in Argentina.
Frida Kahlo, self-portrait, via Wiki
Easter Island Artefacts, Ambrosetti Museum via Wiki
National History Museum via Wiki
Natural science Museum via Wiki
Buenos Aires Planetario via Wiki
Evita moves the masses, via Wiki