Art lovers will have no trouble finding impressive galleries during their travels in South America, with numerous art museums found in many capitals and major cities across the continent. Here we take a look at just a handful of the most prominent collections found in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Venezuela.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires
Argentina’s National Museum of Fine Art is one of the largest public collections in Latin America. With more than 12,000 pieces across two levels, the museum is home to an impressive collection of 19th century European art and the most important collection of Argentine art in the world.
The first floor is dedicated to the impressionists and post-impressionists with works from Van Gogh, Gaugin, Manet, Rembrandt, El Greco and Goya, along with a collection of works by the Argentinean greats Cándido López, Pueyrredón, Sívori and Della Valle. On the second floor, visitors will discover a huge collection of Argentinean and Latin American 20th century art in addition to celebrated international artists.
Highlights include Van Gogh’s Moulin de la Gallette, Gougain’s Woman of the Sea, Picasso’s Woman Resting and Argentinian artist Forner’s The Drama. Admission to the museum is free.
Museu de Arte de São Paulo
Arguably the greatest art collection in South America, the Sao Paulo Museum of Art was Brazil’s first modern art museum when it was founded in 1947. Home to the most important collection of European art in the southern hemisphere, the museum holds over 10,000 pieces from across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
The iconic building housing MASP’s collections today is almost as impressive as the art itself. Designed by Lina Bo Bardi in 1968, the radical concrete and glass structure has become a landmark of the city, and its unique approach to art display with works suspended in glass easels rather than mounted on walls, makes for a truly memorable experience. Unlike many museums which follow a linear path between paintings and collections, visitors can weave in and out of the hanging arrangement, choosing their own path among the works of art.
The museum highlights include works by Rembrandt, Van Goh, Rembrandt and Picasso, among others in the permanent collections, in addition to numerous exhibitions exploring different themes offered each year. The Sao Paulo Museum of Art is open Tuesday – Sunday and costs R$35.
Museo de Arte de Lima
Known by most Peruvians as MALI, this impressive art museum is housed in the distinctive 19th century Palacio de la Exposición, a historical landmark of Lima. The artwork contained within is also a testament to history, dedicated to the evolution of Peruvian art with a huge collection starting from the pre-Columbian era and tracing 3,000 years of history to modern times.
Permanent galleries include pre-Columbian, Colonia, Republican and Modern Art as well as Textiles, Drawing, Silverware and Photography.
In addition to being the most exhaustive collection of art from the earliest Andean civilizations to today, the art museum has become the city’s cultural center with temporary galleries, a library, auditorium and a café. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday and costs S30.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago
Chile’s National Museum of Fine Arts (called MNBA by the locals) was founded in 1880, making it the oldest art museum in South America. It was moved to its current home in the Palace of Fine Arts in 1910, a splendid building that was built to commemorate the country’s first century of Chilean independence from Spain. Designed by French-Chilean architect Emile Jecquier, the palace was inspired by Paris’s Petit Palais and showcases an eclectic mix of Neoclassical, Baroque and Art Nouveau design elements.
The museum holds a large collection of 19th and 20th century artwork and is one of the major centers for Chilean and South American art. Highlights of the museum include the works of prominent Chilean artists Israel Roa and José Gil de Castro, along with a collection of Italian drawings from the 15th – 17th century.
The building is also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art, so you can enjoy the best of old and new when you visit this beautiful museum. And with free admission, why wouldn’t you take a stroll through Chilean Art History?
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas
Founded by journalist Sofia Imber in 1973, the Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas is one of the most important collections of national and international modern art in Venezuela. Spanning 16,000 square meters over five levels, the museum houses a permanent collection of 3,000 works.
17 galleries comprise an impressive collection that includes fascinating pieces like a sculpture garden and a paper cabinet, and features prominent works by Venezuelan artists such as Jesús Soto in addition to significant pieces from the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Léger, Chagall and other modern artists.
Highlights include Matisse’s Odalisque in Red Pants, Portrait of Dora Maar by Picasso and El Carnaval Nocturno by Marc Chagall. The Museum of Modern Art is open Tuesday – Sunday and admission is free.