Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández [José Hernández Museum of Popular Art]

Oh. Em. Geeee.

An art museum!

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.


Tucked back from the very busy Ave Libertador is the José Hernández Museum of Popular Art.  It is not as imposing as it appears here.

Bit easy to miss from the huge avenue just out of frame.

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!

First up are the jewelry creations from 2nd Bienal Latinomaericana de Joyería Contemporánea:

Now THESE are statement pieces.
This is a necklace, and it is amazing and I would wear it, and the object I didn’t quite get in the photo is an earring, but I am not 100% sure how that would work.

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.

Like flower echoes!

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.

A variety of interesting mates.


From one of the many, many editions of consummate gaucho epic Martín Fierro, written by museum namesake José Hernández.


Fancy bombillas, the straws used with mate.
This extraordinary mate gourd was made by “prisoners in jails in Argentina” in the early 20th century.

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.


I love this one.


The one at the bottom is called “Creature” but it looked like a sheep to me, and if I owned this work I would keep it on my desk and pet it often.  I’d call it Seamus.





The museum also has a nice patio with metal sculptures:


Martín Fierro, I presume.
This gal is by the door to the library and archive. I love her.

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.


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.

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).


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

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:


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


Sail 3rd class with your closest 800 friends.
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.

Marginally better than 3rd class, but the price was right (free).
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:


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.

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


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.




Museo del Agua y de la Historia Sanitaria [Museum of Water and Sanitation History]

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 my local basketball team.

Definitely read that book, by the way.

Anyway, you will find the Museo del Agua y de la Historia Sanitaria (Museum of Water and Sanitation History) in a very eye-catching building in Buenos Aires.


There’s a lot to look at here.

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.

Makes an impressive entry for a sanitation museum.

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…


I’m 100% sure there is a fancy word for these that I cannot remember.
This pipe is made of wood!


Not gonna lie; I do love a faucet key.

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.

Miss me with your wastewater-only pipelines, Boca and Barracas.

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:

I used to get a magazine from my national professional association, and I think this one is cooler.

Various and sundry piping-related materials, catalogs, and certificates:


Is…is this an anatomically accurate depiction of a water drop?

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.

Antique toilets.
Old timey toilet tank!
An old sink and Turkish squat toilet.
A portable bidet and good reminder to thank your lucky stars that all your butt-related fixtures are connected to pipes.
Prison toilets.
The sign says these toilet bowls “were a more modest alternative to the pedestal.”  Which, yes.                The lower one is a squat toilet from 1900.
They even let you see the toilets and items that are not currently on official display.


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.


This building is undoubtedly haunted.  You can tell that even before you hear the stories of suicide and murder in it.


This is a 1948 mercury vapor valve, and according to the label it is a “device for rectification of alternating current into direct current.”  It was used until 2000.


There’s a water station!  If you take the tour, you can have some.

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.


Stick your faces right in!

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.

Carne [Beef]: Special exposition of the Museo de la Ciudad

Serendipity. That happiest of things. That great gift.

I was walking down Defensa after class.


…seemed awfully big and fancy for a carniceria.



This is not the main location of the Museo de la Ciudad, but the Casa Altos de Elorriaga location, which is currently, magnificently, and tragically temporarily, a museum to Argentine beef.

So what will you find in a glorious exposition dedicated to meat, that most Argentine of culinary indulgences?


A TIMELINE OF BEEF: The first cows arrive in 1549!
2002: The first Argentine cloned calf is born!
2008: Political machinations affect beef!





Including racist marketing!

But that is absolutely not all. No indeed. Got something meat-related in mind? NAME IT, SON.


Have you ever wondered if the Argentine relationship with beef can be statistically quantified? WONDER NO LONGER.

The only nation that consumes more beef per person than Argentina is Uruguay. BARELY.

So what do Argentines use all that meat for? The interior patio holds the answers you seek, friend.


Beef is often located in guiso (stew), milanesa, and empanadas.
Beef is also featured in an asado, which is an Argentine barbeque.
Beef can be found in street food. You can tell this cart is another historical artifact because today, 18 pesos will buy you literally nothing.

Are you more interested in “how the sausage is made,” so to speak? It looks something like this:

The “dirty zone” is where steak is born.
Someone made a tiny side of beef for this display.

So, meat plays a pretty big role in Argentine culture. But what about Argentine pop culture? Has there ever been a famous sexploitation film in which meat featured heavily alongside a celebrated bombshell and a future father of an Oscar-winning writer?

I mean, why are you even asking?

But maybe your cultural tastes are more highbrow. You appreciate fine art. Painting, sculpture. These media speak to you and inform your experiences. You enjoy seeing beauty rendered immortal by the hand of a master.

You will find your treasure here, too.


All in all, “Carne” is a masterpiece. Obviously. It might be that someone in a position to affect these sorts of things noticed that it is the 50th anniversary of the film “Carne” and just ran with it. If that’s the case, this exhibition is even more superb. It’s open to the public, it’s free, there are promotional postcards–but it closes down on September 30th, so you only have a month to experience “Carne.”

Paseo de las Esculturas [Promenade of Sculptures]

Boedo is not a neighborhood that draws the tourism of a Palermo, but there are some cool things there, not the least of which is the feeling of visiting a non-tourist-centric barrio.  It’s an old working-class area that drew a lot of immigrants, and Boedo has a rich history in socialist and anarchist politics, artistic movements (particularly left-wing and literary), and tango (for a brief primer in English, go here).

If you find yourself in Boedo (and you might, there are tango shows, historic cafes, and the Museum of Modern Art is also there), take a bit of time to visit the main drag (Avenida Boedo) and the few blocks of sculptures installed along it.


There are some neat ones, and you know you’re in a quality place when there’s art just lying around on the street.


I was intensely curious about the relation of the leaf to the body, so here’s the back.

So go check out the museums, pop into Cafe Margot, and appreciate the sculpture.

This one is my faaaaaaaaaavorite.

The Paseo de las Esculturas is comprised of 20 works along Av Boedo between San Juan and Independencia.  It’s easily accessible by subway (the E line).

Pilgrimage to Luján!

Hahahaha, no not that pilgrimage.

Luján is a popular, actual religious pilgrimage destination as the site of a large Neo-Gothic basilica and the 388-year-old icon therein.


It’s pretty impressive.

That icon is Our Lady of Luján, the official patron saint of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. I neglected to get a photo but it was Good Friday and the basilica was super full. The icon was commissioned for a man in Santiago del Estero, but when the caravan parked in present-day Zelaya, the oxen refused to continue until the statue was unloaded. This was seen as a miracle. The Virgin clearly wanted to stay in a tiny podunk that happened to be much, much closer to Buenos Aires than Santiago del Estero. That didn’t stop someone from moving her about 50 km away to the larger podunk of Luján 40 years later. The basilica was started in 1890.




But ALSO in Luján are some museums! I was only there for the afternoon so I didn’t even see them all! What I did see is coming up next!



Museo Nacional del Hombre [National Museum of Man]

Sooner or later, I’m going to get to some of the Big Museums of the city, but I must say, I really enjoy poking around the little gems. It doesn’t take long to go through them, but you can just feel the love, ya know? So today, here’s another wee treasure of culture and anthropology.

The Museo Nacional del Hombre blends right into the neighborhood:

Helpful little sign on the pole though


And therein you will find some rooms devoted to the native peoples of Argentina. The first room covers historical objects of and information on ancient cultures.


TL;DR: First hunter-gatherers; widely varying geography in northwest Argentina.



Textile Nerd Photography



Feline motifs were a big deal and I approve.



Drop spindle, remarkably similar to my own.





The exhibits then move into the contemporary culture and works of different peoples, which I am not going to try to get into too much because this has been a five-day weekend and my brain has melted. This includes the festival of Aréte Abáti, a harvest festival in the Chiriguano Chané community of Jujuy and Salta.

The masks are part of that festival, and, ever the fan of interactive museum exhibits, I was pleased to see a selection of masks available for handling.

Being a textile nerd, I also enjoyed the display and information on the weaving of the Wichí people (Jujuy and Formosa). A plant called chaguar is gathered (not cultivated) and its fibers are woven into a number of goods:

Representative crafts are also displayed from the Mbyá (Misiones region):


I have always been a little nonplussed at the use of “basketweaving 101” as a joke for an easy class, because you cannot do this.


And the incredible silverwork and textiles of the Mapuche (southwestern Argentina):


Look at the textiles, y’all. Dang.


There is also an exhibit on a culture that did not survive its contact with European settlement, the Selk’nam, who lived in the southernmost part of the country.


During the hain ceremony, male children were initiated into adulthood and shown that the spirits they’ve been taught to fear as children as just adults in masks. The women, in theory, were never taught this, and so I imagine a lot of subtle eye-rolling also happened.


The upstairs portion of the museum currently houses a temporary exhibit (although it’s been in place since last year and has no closing date) called Objetos Poderosos:


Enjoy all the reflections of my Birkenstocks.


This exhibit includes contemporary objects created for traditional celebrations and observances in Latin America:


Carnaval de Oruro, Bolivia



Afro-American religious figure from Brazil (I think it’s Oya, but I’m not 100% sure).



San La Muerte figures, Corrientes.



Dia de Los Muertos, Mexico.


And a small display of very neat works by Graciela Henríquez, including this kinetic piece of awesome:

And once again, a mask-themed interactive photo opportunity:


And now, the deets:

LOCATION: 3 de Febrero 1378, Belgrano neighborhood


HOURS: Monday-Friday, 10-7

CLOSED DAY: Weekends and holidays

TIME: About an hour

LANGUAGES: All Spanish. The Microsoft translator app is best here.

TOURS: Yes, by arrangement, mostly in workshop form–it’s an education-focused institution. Not a casual tour kind of thing.

SWAG: Hey yeah there is! The entry hall has a couple of museum-branded bags as well as pieces of indigenous craft. There’s also a selection of (Spanish-language) books available.

HOW TO GET THERE: Close to the Olleros station of the D line of the subway.

KIDS: Sure! School visits are their jam, so they have tried to make the place kid-friendly.

FOOD IN THE AREA: Lots of cafes within a few blocks.


Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta [Enrique Larreta Museum of Spanish Art]

Among the many small but charming museums in Buenos Aires is Museo Larreta. Bearing in mind that my Spanish is, let’s say, “raw,” my translations aren’t super awesome and might be corrected as I, you know, learn more stuff.

The museum is in the home of Argentine writer Enrique Larreta, and the collection is principally his own, because when super rich people spend time abroad they often return with a lot of Renaissance-era tchotchkes. Larreta was born in 1875 to a wealthy family, wrote a book I understand to be an important piece of Argentine Hispanic modernism called La Gloria de Don Ramiro set in 1500s Spain, was ambassador to France from 1910-1919, and wrote some other stuff that does not get near the play that Don Ramiro gets. It might be charming-sized for a museum, but for a house in the middle of the biggest city in South America (when it was built), it’s damn near palatial.

Incidentally, this is one-third of Larreta's homes.
How palatial? Half-a-city-block palatial.

The museum is mostly items from Renaissance and Baroque Spain, as Larreta was really into the Spanish Golden Age. He brought back furniture, paintings, carvings, and even curtains.

He’s at the door, reminding you not to touch anything.
How do you even buy Baroque cathedral curtains? Are there cathedral rummage sales?
Curtains from Jaca Cathedral, 17th-century Spain. Velvet, silk, and metallic threads. How do you even buy 17th-century cathedral curtains? Are there cathedral rummage sales?


Oh this old thing?
Arcón [chest], 16th-century Spain, wood and iron, definitely not a coffin.


The museum includes rooms devoted to Larreta and his life, as well. The family’s chapel room, the dining room (where those curtains are located), and the writer’s study are set up for visitor perusal.

The main room of the house. Cozy!


Projection show of the museum’s history.



Look at this glorious chapel lectern.



This chapel room, a common feature in ritzier houses, could host weddings, baptisms, and masses. Here’s the very understated altar.



It was Professor Plum in the study with the candlestick!



The study bookshelves have the Larreta and Anchorena family crests carved on them.



If Larreta never used these as snack bowls while working, I don’t even know what we’re doing here.


The museum has incorporated some multimedia elements, including the floor show pictured above in the main room. The best use of multimedia is the touchscreen information display for a large altarpiece in the Sala de Infancia de Cristo.

The room dedicated to Larreta’s most famous work also includes a decorative media element.


First editions must be pretty scarce if the dude’s own museum couldn’t score one.



The novel was widely translated at the time, but it’s not easy to find an English copy these days. You can download the 1924 English edition here.



Other notable views for looky loos are the amazing Andulsian patio:


You can’t go out there, just take a peek.


And the impressive, Moorish-influenced bathroom:


Check out that light fixture.



Bidet on the left, and yes, they are totally normal bathroom equipment in Argentina today.



Deep, yet narrow.



All that space, and it’s still a tub-shower combo.


My favorite part of the whole shebang, though, is the garden. Full of paths and lovely features and also cats, it’s great for meandering.


The dark blotch in the middle is a cat.



The garden views inspire reflections, such as: How much money did these people have? Was it all the money?


The garden has a contemporary sculpture exhibit throughout, often incorporating living elements of the garden:

The best part of the garden is the ombú tree. Planted about 100 years ago by Larreta’s son, the ombú is enormous. It’s hard to get a sense of its scale from a photo.

So here’s the garden map, to give you an idea of its size.

So let’s get down to brass tacks:

LOCATION: Juramento 2291, Belgrano neighborhood

COST: 30 pesos ($1.50 USD), free for students, seniors, kids under 12, people with disabilities; general admission is free on Thursdays

HOURS: Tuesday-Friday, 12-7; Saturday and Sunday, 10-8


TIME: 1-2 hours

LANGUAGES: Only the bare minimum of the signage includes an English translation, but the photo function of the free Google translator app or the Microsoft translator app work pretty well; you will definitely get the gist.

TOURS: There are scheduled guided tours of the museum and garden in Spanish.

SHOP: There is no shop, but you can purchase a nice booklet of the museum for 80 pesos ($4.00 USD) or a fancy edition of La Gloria de Don Ramiro (for much more than that).

HOW TO GET THERE: The museum is very close to the Juramento stop of the D line of the subway and a yellow tourist bus stop.

KIDS: Not recommended for little kids. There’s nothing particularly interesting for them, pieces are out and easy to reach, and if they’re short and run off in the garden, you’re gonna lose sight of them.

FOOD IN THE AREA: There’s a nice cafe attached to the museum and several types of cafes and restaurants within a few blocks.