It’s hard to explain football culture to people who weren’t raised in places so deeply entrenched in it. I certainly don’t understand it fully myself. So, before I jump in here, allow me to create a bit of context.
Club Atlético River Plate and Club Atlético Boca Juniors are the biggest teams in Argentina, with a long and storied rivalry. For utterly bananas reasons you can read about here, the 2018 Copa Libertadores Final’s second leg between River and Boca was played not in Buenos Aires, but Spain. River won that game and the Cup, and this was a restaurant I happened to be near at the time (I live in the area of the River stadium).
So. River Plate and Boca Juniors are kind of a big deal.
The athletic clubs are entire ecosystems, with different sports and teams and members and fans–but the team that is synonymous with the club name is the senior men’s football team. The stadium museums are focused on them. Which leads me to:
The Museo River Plate is at the stadium, which has one large, non-sports-related claim on my interest: Estadio Monumental is a major setting in The Eternaut, a famous Argentine sci-fi comic.
But on to the museum. It begins with a futuristic look back at the team’s past.
Those black tunnel-looking rooms to the sides give the team’s history and its wider context in that particular decade, and, given the dearth of artifacts, it does a creditable job of giving a physical sense to long history.
Each of the tunnel rooms has some information about the teams of the time, and also a diorama that shows a notable non-soccer scene of the era. For instance, for the 40s, you have the above team stuff, and also a balcony set for a Perón speech.
The stadium was also the site of Argentina’s win of the 1978 World Cup (the national team still plays its home games here).
Eventually, the tunnel ends and you’re deposited among several years’ worth of team hardware.
And this rather unique gift to the club from the national football association commemorating the club’s 100th birthday.
There were a few other interesting things in that room, but with all the lights and glass, the photos rather prominently feature the back of my phone and hands, alas.
Famous players have their area, of course.
Some of these pillars have QR codes that are supposed to show the player’s best goals, but I tried to download the app it required and watch them and could never make it work, which was a bit disappointing.
There’s some stadium history! The current location dates back to the 30s. There’s a pretty neat little model of the old gates and seating.
And the current look:
Textile nerds gonna textile nerd, so here’s an old jersey. I bet that’s blood on it.
It’s a two-storey building, which accommodates a theater and an overhead view of the entrance, where the current team hardware is available for photo ops.
There’s also this, which must mean something but hell if I know what.
Now, Mr Exhibitist is a lifelong fan of a different football club, so I am forbidden by the articles of marriage from patronizing the museum swag shop. But dear lord, the merch.
It’s an interesting visit for those into sport, and stadium tours are also available on the hour. For what it’s worth, every local football team I’ve googled has their own museum, although I imagine the River and Boca ones are probably the biggest and best funded.
Museo River Plate is at Figueroa Alcorta 7509, part of the stadium complex (the stadium’s official name is Estadio Antonio Vespucio Liberti, but it’s only ever called The Monumental). It’s open every day from 10am to 7pm, although I would guess not on game days. I would not advise being anywhere near the stadium on game days, in any case. The entry fee for the museum alone is 340 pesos, although I believe that’s the price for Argentines and local residents–foreigners pay a bit more. The guided stadium tour is extra.