Museo de la Inmigración [Museum of Immigration]

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.

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These guys are probably still in line.

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).

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The museum’s on the third floor; definitely take the elevator.

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Bank, ho! (Multi-post joke)

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:

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The visitor moves through the experience of immigration, with the examples of travel documents and illustrations of accommodations:

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Sail 3rd class with your closest 800 friends.
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The travel truck of a couple fleeing Italy’s anti-Jewish laws and the impending war in 1939.

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.

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Marginally better than 3rd class, but the price was right (free).
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It could accommodate 3000 new arrivals at a time.

Next, you see the some of the things immigrants used to create and sustain their communities:

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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.

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That the promenade is mostly Duchamp’s Fountain is just the best.

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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.

 

 

 

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