There are some more recent cameras, too. Look at these shockingly gaudy flashes:
My favorite things were the stereoscopes! You can look inside this one:
The very coolest thing is a large 1890s camera pointed at the front door.
If you look at the back, you can see the street outside, and it is rad:
I had a really nice visit; it’s an interesting spot for lunch. The Museo is in Chacarita, and it is open from 7am (!!!) to 1145pm every day but Saturday, when it opens at 8am, and Sunday, when it is closed. There is no cost to enter, but it is a cafe/bar, so have a meal to help keep the lights on.
I get to coast into the weekend on this one, because not only is it an art museum, it’s also small and the exhibits change every few months. I’m going to show you the three current exhibits, but your mileage may vary, and that’s kind of awesome.
The museum is dedicated to what might be more broadly recognized as folk art, an art of the people–it has a collection of art from native peoples of Argentina and criollo art, such as items associated with gaucho culture. It also has a bunch of contemporary pieces as the museum is active in organizing art shows, so it has a pretty neat collection, sort of both niche and diverse, if that makes sense.
Let’s rub our eyeballs all over the current exhibits!
While the majority of the pieces are very dramatic, there is also a solo exhibition of the works by Nuria Carulla, and they are delicate and dreamy.
Next up: “El Mate y El Facón: De la Poesía Gauchesca a la Colección Criolla.” It includes mates and gaucho knives from the 19th and 20th centuries.
And, my personal favorite as a textile nerd: the Salón de Arte Textil (pequeno y mediano formato). This exhibit was a damned delight. There was everything from sculpture to traditional decorative techniques.
LOVE. IT. ALL.
The museum also has a nice patio with metal sculptures:
The museum has also centered itself as place of culture for the community, hosting numerous workshops and classes. With the frequent change of exhibits, I will certainly be back soon.
The MAP isn’t the easiest museum to get to; it’s a good 20 minute walk from the nearest subway station–but it is near other, larger museums, so if you’re in the area already, it wouldn’t be difficult to add it to your itinerary. No English materials or signs, but free English tours on Wednesdays at 2pm. It’s open Tuesdays through Fridays from 1pm to 7pm and Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 10am to 8pm. Admission is 30 pesos (about a buck US) and free on Wednesdays.
Today, if you immigrate to Argentina, you will undoubtedly spend some time in the Migraciones building, near the Retiro train station and the port. You’ll be going to the same place immigrants have passed through for more than 100 years.
In 1906, the Hotel de Inmigrantes (Immigrants Hotel) was built at this site with the aim of acting as a kind of full-service center for immigrants. Part of the old hotel building, between present-day Migraciones and the Navy’s school of sea sciences, now houses the Museum of Immigration (and a contemporary art center).
The museum’s on the third floor; definitely take the elevator.
The museum does have some artifacts, but it also dedicates a fair portion of its small space to contemporary art with an immigration theme. It is more of a tribute to immigration than a strictly educational space (although it does also house historical records for research). It begins with this work, We Are All the Same Under the Skin (I would credit the artist but apparently the museum handout I was reading like an hour ago has been misplaced):
The visitor also sees a timeline of immigration legislation and its historical context:
The visitor moves through the experience of immigration, with the examples of travel documents and illustrations of accommodations:
In addition to the multimedia artwork, visitors can listen to and watch interviews with more recent immigrants. As you move into the immigrant’s process of starting a life in Argentina, there is a life-size model of a part of a dormitory in the Immigrants Hotel. There’s a voice singing, and I recognized the lullaby.
Next, you see the some of the things immigrants used to create and sustain their communities:
Finally, the museum has an exhibition by the EDO art collective, imagining a solution to the dehumanization and rejection of migrants by having them be given the legal status of fine art, and then regaining their full status as human citizens of their new countries (the transport ship, La Ballena, is organized into elements of first-world museums, as befitting works of fine art). It sounds weird but I promise the concept appears more coherent and creative in person.
The museum is free, and the hours vary by season. While the signage is only in Spanish, there is an English-language booklet available at the desk on the bottom floor (by US reckoning, I mean the first floor; by Argentine I mean the PB). Finding it is a little bit of a challenge, as the road in front of the Migraciones complex is currently severely torn up by construction (probably for years to come) and the Immigrants Hotel is set back from the parking lot. There are some large banners to help direct visitors, and it shares an entry with the Navy’s school–the sailors on guard duty were very pleasant and helpful in directing us the right way. You can get to the general area by way of a train or subway to Retiro station and walk about a kilometer, or by taxi.
Situated in the river in Buenos Aires’s ritziest barrio, parked near its better-known sister museum ship the ARA Presidente Sarmiento, you can find the ARA Uruguay. How much better-known is the Sarmiento? When you get a ticket at the Uruguay, it says “Sarmiento” on it.
But the Uruguay has its own very interesting history! It’s the oldest ship still floating in the Argentine Navy, having come into service in 1874. It was a training ship, it did military naval stuff like go to Patagonia to help throw cold water on Chile’s territorial ambitions, and then it got outfitted for scientific exploration in 1887.
The real high point in the Uruguay’s service life came in 1903, when it was refitted as an Antarctic rescue vessel. It got its chance for glory in that line of work that same year, when the Uruguay was sent to save the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, which had been stranded for an ENTIRE EXTRA WINTER after its own retrieval ship sank on account of being crushed by ice. They had to eat penguins. It was not a good time.
The ship, which honestly seems a little small and drafty for crazy cold Antarctic shenanigans, has a museum below decks.
Here you’ll find artifacts from its naval career:
It includes some items that are original to the ship.
There are some actual artifacts related to the Swedish Expedition, too.
Look at all this space below decks! The 27 guys who went to rescue the Swedes were probably super comfy. After the Swedes came aboard, everybody probably had to spoon constantly.
Ships’ wheels are kind of neat, actually.
Well that’s enough of that! Let’s see some views on the deck.
There you have it, a piece of Argentine naval history parked right there in Puerto Madero, a stone’s throw away from a more famous piece of Argentine naval history, but deserving of attention, too. Tickets are 20 pesos (about 50 US cents at the moment), and it’s open seven days a week from 10am to 7pm. Look for it in the river here.
Let me tell you, I have been a huge fan of sanitation infrastructure since reading The Ghost Map. No part of that sentence is exaggeration. It’s difficult to appreciate modern sanitary standards until you read about a virulent cholera outbreak, and the sheer amount of sewage in the drinking water. Yum.
This is the Palacio de Aguas Corrientes, or Palace of Running Waters, which is incidentally the name of my future chalet. It was completed in 1894, designed to be a water pumping station. That’s right; this glorious eclectic construction of English terra cotta tiles, a French mansard roof, and polished landscaping was built to be a water tank cozy.
Today, the Water Palace houses administrative offices for AySA, the state water company, in addition to the museum (and archive and library).
The museum devotes a good deal of its space to the building’s construction and history.
After the section dedicated to the building, there are…
And a model of the Radio Antiguo area’s English-style drainage system, which collected storm water in addition to sewage. Not every sewage system does that, you know.
Historical artifacts of the water company (once called the Obras Sanitarias de la Nacion or OSN, no I was not kidding about the basketball team) are also in the museum. There’s an office from the 1920s-1940s era:
A magazine published for the nation’s sanitation workers:
Various and sundry piping-related materials, catalogs, and certificates:
But I know what you’re thinking.
“Does this sanitation museum include toilets? Because honestly why even bother otherwise.”
Well of COURSE it has toilets.
This room is scented by an air freshener that took me a moment to place, but is in fact the most common air freshener used in public toilets in Buenos Aires. I thought that was a nice touch of ambiance.
Visitors can also see the interior of the building–the former water tanks. The space has some of the larger artifacts and photographs relating to the history of water and sanitation service in the city.
If you aren’t on the tour, there are screens with virtual guides giving short talks throughout the museum.
Are there interactive exhibits? Heck yes there are, in a manner of speaking.
Bonus: Currently, there is also an art exhibit on the Antarctic.
The architecture alone is worth stopping by, and if you’re already there, the museum is certainly fun and doesn’t require much time. There is also a shop! A case just outside the museum shows its wares, which include the most affordable post cards in Buenos Aires, outside of free ones. Museo del Agua y de la Historia Sanitaria is a couple blocks from the D line of the subway and open Monday through Friday, from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Guided visits in Spanish are at 11am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
I’m working at a tiny disadvantage today, as I visited the Museo Evita a couple of weeks ago and photographs are not allowed, but fortunately for potential visitors, the website is well done with a lot of information.
The English-speaking world is often introduced to her first via the musical “Evita,” which is unfortunate, as it was sourced in anti-Perónist accounts and is historically inaccurate. In any case, regardless of the facts of her life, Eva Perón is subjected to the sort of scrutiny and sneering criticism that male political figures are rarely, if ever, subjected to.
It would be difficult, or even impossible, to overstate the cultural impact of Eva Perón in Argentina (as a foreigner here, I am reminded of this Sarah Glidden comic often). She is memorialized in very large ways, including the 100 peso note…
Small wonder then that the museum dedicated to her appears to be well-funded with a very engaging community presence. The vexing question of why the English-language Wikipedia identifies her primarily as an actress is perhaps a larger one.
Incidentally, wanna see how she’s identified in her Latin American Google results?
The building that houses Museo Evita and the cafe was built in the early 1900s and acquired by Eva’s social aid foundation in 1948 as Temporary Home #2, serving as a transitional support home for women and children.
These sorts of buildings present a bit of a challenge for chronological presentation, as you can see on the map that visitors receive:
But it’s not so difficult to navigate. There are signs and an abundance of security staff to make sure visitors know where the chronology goes next. Honestly, I would not change the set up at all; who ever feels like life moves predictably?
The museum assumes visitors have enough familiarity with Argentine history to understand the context of things, and the treatment overall is kept rather light. Most of the signage is translated into English, so English speakers will not be lost. Video clips are also subtitled with English.
Since I don’t have many photos to offer, I’m going to briefly mention my biggest impressions from the museum.
The woman had an exceptional amount of hustle. Evita was born in the sticks, the fifth child in a wealthy man’s illegitimate, side family. That man abandoned her family, leaving them in dire poverty. She went to the big city at age 15 to be an actress, which had to be at least as unforgiving an industry to women in the 1930s and 40s as it is today. She worked hard and was active in her unions, helping found the Argentine Radio Association and serving as its president in 1944. Evita took no half-measures and was probably incapable of doing so.
Women’s suffrage. Evita is widely credited with driving the issue of women’s suffrage to its political fruition, legalized in 1947 and first exercised in 1951. She also organized a women’s political party. The museum has a newsreel on the women’s vote, showcasing the government’s preparation of the new voter rolls and how to vote, and featuring a scene in which an Evita lookalike argues passionately with reluctant female family members on the civic duty of women to exercise their right to vote.
The funeral room. The room adjoining the funeral room shows a large video of the Cabildo Abierto del Justicialismo–a massive rally where the assembled people pressed Evita to accept the nomination for vice president–and the Renunciation, a radio address made nine days later where she declined the nomination (these would be among her last public acts; she would die of uterine cancer less than a year later). The visitor then turns and sees silent footage from her 14 day funeral, during which more than two million people came to pay tribute. Her voice from the Cabildo rally and Renunciation in the room behind is still heard over the funeral images, creating a moving impression of memory and legacy.
Before exiting through a nicely stocked gift shop, visitors can participate in the Millones photo project, taking a self-portrait with a photo of Evita using a mounted digital camera. I took one, but it doesn’t seem like the website has been updated in awhile.
Finally, I had some fun in the swag room, where I picked up the museum guide and the lady’s autobiography.
At 180 pesos (at the time, anyway; about US $6), it’s one of the more expensive museums I’ve been to. But it is certainly worth a visit! It’s easily accessible via the D line of the subway, and is very close to the botanical gardens. The cafe is really nice, too.
Currently, there has been a lot of protesting around public education, the lack of funding, and the teachers’ and professors’ terribly low pay, so I will be making an effort to visit the museum network of UBA. The Museum of External Debt is the second one I’ve posted on.
One of the consequences of growing up middle class in the USA is a general sort of insulation from macroeconomics. At least for me, there just wasn’t an awareness of what went on at the national level. Part of that was childhood, sure, but I don’t think you really find economic turmoil that really disrupts the political institutions of the US after the Industrial Age–and really, not *that* disruptive.
You don’t have to go back very far to find that kind of chaos in Argentina. You can see damaged door handle of a bank in the post on the Banco Cuidad museum. There were riots, police brutality, dozens killed, and an iconic image of the president fleeing the Casa Rosada in a helicopter.
Against that backdrop of economic chaos in 2001, students and professors in the Universidad de Buenos Aires’s economics department began to discuss a museum on Argentina’s external debt. In 2005 the museum display opened at its first location. It is currently located within the economics building of UBA, and it has a travelling version and also a healthy online presence.
It’s tucked into the first floor, and you can it through the windows on the other side of the building.
The physical space of the museum is just the one exhibition room. And it is basically a room-sized pamphlet. It is all text and photos. None of that text is in English. But, an English audio tour is available if you ask at the desk. There’s a pretty slick booklet about the museum available, with text in four languages: Spanish, French, Italian, and German. Haha.
If your Spanish kinda sucks, you are definitely going to want the English audio tour. It doesn’t read the displays word for word, but it gives you a solid idea of what’s there, and it’s simple to follow along.
The history of Argentina’s foreign debt is sketched out, along with the problems the debt (and whatever attending corruption came with it) contributed to for the population of Argentina. Things get super ugly, as things do, during the military dictatorship of the 70s/80s.
Argentina has really been in a state of economic crisis or at least crisis-adjacent ever since. Being unable to untangle itself from a considerable foreign-held debt has had some pretty crippling effects, and addressing the problems has been insanely complicated.
The museum ends with the economic policies of Néstor Kirchner and the restructuring of the debt. Wish I could say it stops in 2007 because everything got super rad after that, but alas. As of this posting, Twitter is flush with memes by Argentines laugh-crying their way through the latest plunge of the peso.
The museum has created a heck of a lot of sophisticated supplementary materials, including four entire comic books and a board game (you can read the comics online for free here). There is a documentary. There is a cartoon miniseries. There is a stunning array of media available on the topic.
The museum is open from 9am to 9pm, Monday-Friday, and it’s free. It’s across the street from the Facultad de Medicina stop on the D line of the subway. If you aren’t near enough to visit, the website is quite robust, so you can absorb it from afar. As a bonus, unrelated factoid, if you look at the top of the economics building, you’ll see a medical scene, as the building was originally the medical school.