Dispatch from the road: Museums of Buenos Aires


LA PROA, El Boca

We’ve been on a roll visiting museums all over the city. It’s a really nice excuse to explore new neighborhoods and spend some time inside, where it’s cool, enjoying art while outside it’s the hottest month of the year.

So as a reference, some quick and entirely subjective impressions.

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba)

Certainly one of the more impressive of the city’s museums, this big, lofty building contains an ecclectic collection of contemporary arts from Latin American artists. When we were there, there was a lifetime work exhibition by photographer Oscar Muñoz, which was great. Recommended. (link)

Museu de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires (MACBA)

Changing, very well curated exhibitions of contemporary artists are the highlight of the MACBA, situated conveniently in San Telmo which makes it a nice target for daytrips into the neighborhood. (We live just a few minutes walk away, so for us it’s convenient anyway.) The space is pretty gorgeous, too, in a glass & visible concrete kind of way. Small, but excellent. (link)

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA)

A big collection of more traditional fine arts, again with a focus on, but not exclusively Argentinian artists. You’ll find European impressionists as well as a number of more colorful collections donated by private collectors. (Asian fans or mate straws, anyone?) (link)

Coleccion de arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat

The brainchild of philanthropist María Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, this private collection is somewhat all over the place, ranging from photographs (think straight-from-the-handbook stuff like reflections of monuments in puddles, or Tango dancers shot from above while hiding their faces) to 19th century as well as contemporary paintings and sculptures, and even some archeological pieces, it’s truly ecclectic. Not any less impressive, though, so if you happen to find yourself near Puerte Madero with some time to kill, you can easily spend an hour or two here. (link

Funcación PROA

In the heart of edgy La Boca, PROA is part gallery, part museum, and has a fantastic reputation as one of the first who dared breach into this otherwise notoriously crime-ridden neighborhood. We ended up going there when the exhibitions were being changed, so I can only say for certain that the cafeteria on the rooftop is a great place to relax. I’ll definitively be back here when it re-opens to the public in a few days. (link)

So that’s the major ones we’ve visited so far. Nothing for me compares to the New York MoMA or the London Tate Modern, but they’re solid, enjoyable, high-quality collections.

At the next exhibition, let your gadget guide the way




Last weekend I was at the Louvre and took an audio (rather: interactive) guide with me. I was somewhat surprised to see that the device I was handed was a Nintendo DS. Awhile back in the Tate Modern in London I believe to remember seeing an iPod (semi-hidden in a plastic case) used as a guide.

It’s quite interesting to see how these devices are used and modded to serve this new purpose. In the case of the Louvre’s Nintendo handsets for example, the console would recognize in which room you are and offer more in-depth info for selected artworks in that room, or you could simply punch in the audio guide number of your artwork of choice. The principle is quite simple and it works reasonably well. Many other things could quite easily be handled by smartphone apps, and of course in many cases they already are. Well-produced audio content goes a long way in explaining a museum exhibition.

“Outdoors” exhibition apps (9/11 memorial and the like) are a slightly different take on the same general area, but the potential for interaction in public spaces adds an extra layer of design challenges – which were by the way excellently solved and incorporated in Janet Cardiff’s and George Bures Miller’s interactive iPod installation at dOCUMENTA.

Do you know of interesting examples of well-designed interactive exhibition apps, or interestingly executed, repurposed devices in museum contexts?