Published on August 29th, 2017 | by Mark Chesnut
The Most Artsy Things To Do in Quito, Ecuador
The city of Quito is known for its historic city center. But it’s also a great place to explore art across the centuries. Here are some of the top places to visit in Ecuador‘s capital to enjoy art.
Museo de Arte Colonial: Set in a restored 17th-century building, this is a rewarding place to view works of the Escuela Quiteña (Quito School). It’s not an actual school of course. The Escuela Quiteña is a Latin American artistic tradition that peaked in Quito during the colonial period of the 17th and 18th centuries. Both European and indigenous influences are visible in this artwork, which is largely religious in nature. You can view it in various historic sites, churches and museums in the historic city center.
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Mindalae – Museo Etnografico de Artesania de Ecuador: This small but worthwhile museum exhibits the artwork, clothing and utensils of Ecuador’s indigenous people.
Museo Camilo Egas: set in a restored colonial home, the Camilo Egas museum has a compact but noteworthy collection of work by painter Camilo Egas (1899-1962), Ecuador’s first indigenous movement painter.
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Museo Guayasamín: In the former home of the legendary painter Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919–99), this wonderful museum houses the most complete collection of his work. Guayasamín was also a big-time collector, and the museum displays his impressive collection of pre-Columbian ceramic, bone and metal pieces — including bowls, fertility figurines and burial masks. Viewing this collection helps visitors to understand what flavored Guayasamín’s own work.
Also on display at this museum is the painter’s collection of religious art — making this another good locale to observe indigenous work from the Escuela Quiteña. Check out the tiny crucifix with a pendulum heart.
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Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man): Fans of Guayasamín must make time the Capital del Hombre, located a few blocks from the Museo Guayasamín. This fascinating and strikingly designed venue serves as a tribute to humankind and the suffering of Latin America’s indigenous poor. Take a guided tour to get the most out of this museum and to better understand the meaning of the giant works on display.
Museo de Arte Moderna & Instrumentos Musicales (Museum of Modern Art and Musical Instruments): Located in the same building as the Museo Nacional, this museum features a hodgepodge of musical instruments from South America as well as original artwork by Oswaldo Guayasamín, Camilo Egas and other artists.
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Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (Contemporary Art Center): A former military hospital provides the dramatic setting for this contemporary art museum. Current exhibits include “Soy Paisaje,” an exhibition of LGBTQ pride and art, “Absorber La Ficción,” which explores intuition as a form of knowledge, and “Han Nefkens,” which features 13 videos from the collection of Dutch writer Han Nefkens.
Art Shopping in Quito
Parque El Ejido: Every weekend, an array of modern art and public vendors gather at El Ejido Park, to sell original works of art — many of which are recreations of famous artwork by artists like Oswaldo Guayasamín (see below).
Centro Artistico Don Bosco: If you’re in the mood for shopping, you can also check out this retail outlet, which is a cooperative of woodworkers from the highlands.
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Arte Sacra and Galeria Catasse: These venues sell work of Chilean-born painter Carlos Tapi Catasse, a leading Quito contemporary artist.
MarsuArte: This gallery stocks the work of several leading Ecuadorian artists, including Carlos Catasse, Gilberto Almeida and Inti.