is the cultural
capital of Ecuador and most of the country's best museums are
here. They range from formal
museums through to
preserved colonial houses, artists' workshops and functioning
places of worship full of religous art.
Culture, history, contemporary art and the natural sciences
of the Central Bank
in the round Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture) building, just
the road from El Ejido park.
Here you can find ceramics, colonial and contemporary art and
a fantastic collection of pre-Hispanic gold artefacts. From
there, a short walk up the hill and to the left onto Avenida 12 de
Octubre will bring you to the Catholic University, which houses the Museo (Museum) Jacinto
which displays religious artworks, antique furniture and
(Amazonian Museum) is further along 12 de Octubre, between Veintemilla
and Wilson, on the first floor of the Abya Yala building. The
museum displays musical instruments, cooking utensils and personal
adornments of the some of the indigenous tribes of the rainforest and
examples of some of the animals found there. There are some
beautiful feathered headdresses, a couple of shrunken human heads and
some rather sad photos showing oil spills in the Oriente. The
displays are very simple, with just a little information in Spanish,
English and French, but somehow you get the feeling of this very
different way of life and the importance of conserving the cultural
heritage which has been devastated by the oil industry. $2
for foreigners, open Monday to Friday, 8.30a.m. to 1p.m. and 2p.m. to
5.30p.m. The bookshop downstairs has
an extensive collection of books about different native
groups, mostly in Spanish.
Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales) is in La Carolina
Park in the new town.
It lacks funding and some of the exhibits have seen better
but it's still worth a visit. Monday to Friday,
1p.m. and 2-4.30p.m. $2. The Botanical Section is
at Rio Coca 1734 and Isla Fernandina, and opens 8.30a.m.
to 5p.m. Monday to Friday.
(Capilla del Hombre) is the artist Oswaldo Guayasamin's
homage to humanity itself and home to many of his works of art.
In addition to Guayasamin's powerful and often
images, you can see where he lived and worked and enjoy views over
Quito. Walk up the ramp outside to see the peaceful spot
the artist is buried under a tree in the garden of his house.
guard may offer you a guided tour around the outside of the house in
return for a tip, if your Spanish is sufficient to understand his
stories. Entry $4. Calvache y Chavez, in the
Alto area of town - take a taxi up the steep hill to the Chapel, then
walk down a few blocks to the Guayasamin
at Bosmediano 543, a tranquil spot with rooms full of Pre-Colombian
ceramics, Colonial Art with religious works from the Quito School, and
works by Guayasamin himself. Oswaldo Guayasamin was probably
Ecuador's most famous artist. His distinctive
strongly influenced by the suffering and poverty he saw and explore
themes of anger, struggle and tenderness. Entry also $4,
may be reduced to $2 if you show your ticket from the Chapel of Man.
La Mariscal, the Mindalae
modern red and black building is dedicated to traditional handicrafts
of Ecuador. The presentation is pretentiously arty.
The lights switch off if you
don't keep moving
flap your arms about, so you can't read most of the
information, which is half-heartedly translated into
English and French, with most of the interesting bits in
only. The main
function of the museum, apart from extracting money from foreigners, is
to tempt you into the Fair Trade Shop of the Sinchi Sacha Foundation.
Although the museum shares an address with the Latin American
Association of IFAT (International Fair Trade Association), there is
little or no information about the producers of the goods on sale and
the shop assistant had no clue about what fair trade meant other
than "the producer gets 50% of the price". Prices do
include tax, which is never a good sign. Entry $3.
you really need to get out of the rain and can't find
anything better to do, try the local souvenir shops
instead, or better still, a tour to craft producing
villages in Ecuador where you can talk to the craftsmen and pay them a
fair price yourself.
are not the only
in Quito - see the Quito
New Town page for information
about the highly
recommended Vivarium, the Botanical Gardens and the art and craft
markets, or read more about the sights of Quito's
Old Town which
has ornate colonial churches full of works of art and a couple of old
houses preserved to
give an idea of how people used to live. Just outside of
there is the Ethnographic
Museum at the Mitad del
Spanish Vocabulary for Quito Museums:
Destinations: Quito Museums
Quito has some of Ecuador´s best museums with historical
relics and archaelogical artefacts, cultural displays, religious
artworks, modern art and
natural history exhibits.
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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