The Montevideo Cabildo was the seat of government during the colonial times of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. It is located in front of Constitution Square, in Ciudad Vieja. Built between 1804 and 1869 in Neoclassical style, with a series of Doric and Ionic columns, it became a National Heritage Site in 1975. In l958, the Municipal Historic Museum and Archive was inaugurated here. It features three permanent city museum exhibitions, as well as temporary art exhibitions, cultural events, seminars, symposiums and forums.
The Palacio Taranco is located in front of the Plaza Zabala, in the heart of Ciudad Vieja. It was erected in the early 20th century as the residence of the Ortiz Taranco brothers on the ruins of Montevideo's first theatre (of 1793), during a period in which the architectural style was influenced by French architecture. The palace was designed by French architects Charles Louis Girault and Jules Chifflot León who also designed the Petit Palais and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It passed to the city from the heirs of the Tarancos in 1943, along with its precious collection of Uruguayan furniture and draperies and was deemed by the city as an ideal place for a museum; in 1972 it became the Museum of Decorative Arts of Montevideo and in 1975 it became a National Heritage Site. The Decorative Arts Museum has an important collection of European paintings and decorative arts, ancient Greek and Roman art and Islamic ceramics of the 10th–18th century from the area of present-day Iran. The palace is often used as a meeting place by the Uruguayan government.
The National History Museum of Montevideo is located in the historical residence of General Fructuoso Rivera. It exhibits artifacts related to the history of Uruguay. In a process begun in 1998, the National Museum of Natural History (1837) and the National Museum of Anthropology (1981), merged in 2001, becoming the National Museum of Natural History and Anthropology. In July 2009, the two institutions again became independent. The Historical Museum has annexed eight historical houses in the city, five of which are located in the Ciudad Vieja. One of them, on the same block with the main building, is the historic residence of Antonio Montero, which houses the Museo Romantico.
The Museo Torres García is located in the Old Town, and exhibits Joaquín Torres García's unusual portraits of historical icons and cubist paintings akin to those of Picasso and Braque. The museum was established by Manolita Piña Torres, the widow of Torres Garcia, after his death in 1949. She also set up the García Torres Foundation, a private non-profit organization that organizes the paintings, drawings, original writings, archives, objects and furniture designed by the painter as well as the photographs, magazines and publications related to him.
There are several other important art museums in Montevideo. The National Museum of Visual Arts in Parque Rodó has Uruguay's largest collection of paintings. The Juan Manuel Blanes Museum was founded in 1930, the 100th anniversary of the first Constitution of Uruguay, significant with regard to the fact that Juan Manuel Blanes painted Uruguayan patriotic themes. In back of the museum is a beautiful Japanese Garden with a pond where there are over a hundred carp. The Museo de Historia del Arte, located in the Palacio Municipal, features replicas of ancient monuments and exhibits a varied collection of artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome and Native American cultures including local finds of the pre-Columbian period. The Museo Municipal Precolombino y Colonial, in the Ciudad Vieja, has preserved collections of the archaeological finds from excavations carried out by Uruguayan archaeologist Antonio Taddei. These antiquaries are exhibits of pre-Columbian art of Latin America, painting and sculpture from the 17th and 18th century mostly from Mexico, Peru and Brazil. The Museo de Arte Contempo has small but impressive exhibits of modern Uruguayan painting and sculpture.
There are also other types of museums in the city. The Museo del Gaucho y de la Moneda, located in the Centro, has distinctive displays of the historical culture of Uruguay's gauchos, their horse gear, silver work and mate (tea), gourds, and bombillas (drinking straws) in odd designs. The Museo Naval, is located on the eastern waterfront in Buceo and offers exhibits depicting the maritime history of Uruguay. The Museo del Automóvil, belonging to the Automobile Club of Uruguay, has a rich collection of vintage cars which includes a 1910 Hupmobile. The Museo y Parque Fernando García in Carrasco, a transport and automobile museum, includes old horse carriages and some early automobiles. The Castillo Pittamiglio, with an unusual façade, highlights the eccentric legacy of Humberto Pittamiglio, local alchemist and architect.
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Famous quotes containing the word museums:
“Museums are just a lot of lies, and the people who make art their business are mostly imposters.... We have infected the pictures in museums with all our stupidities, all our mistakes, all our poverty of spirit. We have turned them into petty and ridiculous things.”
—Pablo Picasso (18811973)
“In museums and palaces we are alternate radicals and conservatives.”
—Henry James (18431816)