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City Museums: Buenos Aires de brazos abiertos

On October 6, it celebrates the Day of Museums of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires. Let's start the visit, and recognize each other, from the sidewalk.


The   Buenos Aires museums   on the postpandemic horizon are the first line in the recovery of encounters of neighbors and tourists in the country, and the world. They have long been working to recover the active memory of a cosmopolitan city, a cultural lighthouse in Latin America, with actions that invite them to be protagonists of history. And that we can start as soon as we step on their sidewalks.

 El Moderno  revitalizes in green the façade of the old tobacco house of San Telmo  and engages the promise of sustainable dialogue activated in its cultural and social action in peripheral neighborhoods, schools and virtual platforms. The  Sivori del Rosedal Museum  , with its popular soul of the Old Guard of “El Café de Hansen”, invades gazebos and benches with participatory proposals. Or it is enough to explore a sunny day through the Andalusian garden of the  Larreta Museum , one of the secrets to discover and breathe in  Belgrano , and observe gardeners, or trestle apprentices, kindly sheltered in a neocolonial house, inspired by the front in the old customs of Buenos Aires. And if we walk through the  Abasto  we appear  Carlos Gardel   beating even in a centuries-old chorizo house, the eternal gift of the Creole Thrush to his mother, and that was recently modernized.

A first view of the buildings of these museums anticipates collections and stories to be passionate about. Let's go to  the Museum of the City , a reference space for Buenos Aires culture and customs, which was born in 1968 by José María Peña's insistence to municipal authorities, in full demolition with the opening of  9 de july avenue . Two years later a set of heritage buildings is achieved at the crossroads of  Alsina and Defensa streets, with neighbors to the  Church of San Francisco, Café Notable La Puerto Rico and Plaza de Mayo .  Kilometer zero not only in citizen history but Argentina , it is decided to occupy first the building of the Farmacia de la Estrella founded in 1895, still in operation. Baron Silvestre Demarchi, the first Italian consul in the country lived there, among others, and opposite is the so-called  Casa de los Altos Elorriaga,  the only one that retains a first floor of the revolutionary era, and which first belonged to Juan Bautista Elorriaga, a well-known merchant and smuggler from the colony. It was a hotel full of voices and hopes for immigration by the nineteen hundred.

Next to the High Elorriaga, and by Alsina, we find the house of  Maria Josefa Ezcurra, sister-in-law of Juan Manuel de Rosas , which was established around 1830, and is preserved today. Figures of the bohemia of the twentieth century as  Sumo's leader, Luca Prodan, passed there. On the back, and by Defense, is the Italianizing  House of the Cherubim , decorated with funny angels, in different poses, and traditional balconies, jewels both from the nineteenth century. In fact two twin houses, eventually it was a budget hotel and had among its passengers  Niní Marshall.  

If we add the 1880 eclectic building of Alsina 416; the apartment house of Alsina 440, built in the thirties; that of Alsina 484, erected in 1912; the one that houses since 1920 the bicentennial  “Libreria del Colegio”,   today in Ávila  ; and one of the current headquarters of the ministry of national culture, a building from the forties in Alsina 465 that still retains the logo of the founding  advertising agency Walter Thompson  on the door, we have in a hundred meters an open-air dictionary of Buenos Aires architecture of three centuries.

 Don Felix's house 

“In handicrafts there is a direct contact of man with the matter that should not be missed and that is a lawful alternative that must be preserved and grown” recalled the great leather craftsman  Rodolfo Grandi  (1939-2010) And on this path the  Hernández Popular Art Museum  works in the Barrio Parque, the House of Artisans of the country in Buenos Aires, and one of the most federal in shares in the City. This building designed by Pierino Piccaluga is a two-story petit hotel, similar to many neighbors in the neighborhood, and had an elegant marble staircase and bars, lost in the widening of  Avenida Libertador  in 1935. He entered a lodge and, then, to a very large dining room connected to the rooms of its owners,  Felix Bunge (1894-1935)  and his father Federico, rich landowners who lived more in the countryside, in General Villegas, than in the city. There Felix begins his love for Argentine traditions and starts a collection of objects from the deep country, “sabers, bayonets, guns, kepies, spears, swords, boladora, medals and uniforms” said a chronicler in 1924, and that was the starting point of the current collection.

The bedrooms overlooked a garden and, further back, to a stables, in which  Bunge  had his precious horses that he used to exhibit on walks along the stately Alvear Avenue. Felix was quite a character who went out for a run very early in the company of a Great Dane and a  sportsman  who promoted  Argentine boxing.  And that happened in the very garden of the current museum with the Buenos Aires Boxing Club, where the first gloves were made in the city before lifting the ban (1924) The stables became a gym equipped with modern appliances and trained the “ Toro de las Pampas”rdquo;, Luis Ángel Firpo,  that of the historic fight with Jack Dempsey, match immortalized by  Julio Cortázar  . They also made “fierros” the patotas of the Patriotic League, who came out in hordes to beat and rape from the Tragic Week of 1919. With Firpo, and several boxers sponsored by Bunge, in front.

At the end of the twenties he dismantles the ring, and the gym, and the stars are the creole roasts where the aristocracy and the first traditionalists flock, “with roast and pot to the creole. Champagne, cigars and coffee was the only foreigner, orchestra, tango and waltz” And it all happened in that garden, and back wing of the museum, and that underwent modifications in the seventies and two thousand.

 A museum in the Siberia Porteña 

  That park with museum had been Siberia in the background... as far as possible from the tumult” describes Néstor Sánchez in “Siberia Blues ” to a physical and psychological space located in the General Paz Park, Saavedra, towards the Forty. And continues a lineage of Buenos Aires writers who describe “where the city and the desert were gathered in a combative embrace like two giants in a singular battle”, appears in Leopoldo Marechal's “Adam Buenosayres” . A halo of mystery, a figure of city and province, that also flies over the Emilio Gauna by  Adolfo Bioy Casares in “The dream of heroes”  Everyone seems to comment on the site indicated for the  Saavedra Museum  , which opens its doors with the title of  Municipal Museum on October 6, 1921 . In Corrientes 939 he began its activities and sets the date to remember  the city's museums.  After a step through Cerrito and Quintana avenues, in 1941 the Deliberating Council decided to allocate the existing building in the former Saavedra estancia for the museum, while  granting the name of the president of the First Country Council .

More than 23,000 pieces that testify to the passage of  Buenos Aires as the capital of the Viceroyalty, the province and the Nation , with remarkable treasures such as rosist iconography, the collection of Leandro N. Alem or the twelve meters drawn in ink of “Buenos Aires a flight of bird” by Jean Dulin (1915), are sheltered in what was the house of  Luis Maria Saavedra (1829-1900) , nephew of the procerer.  Saavedra  bought in 1864 from the heirs of Albertsen de Aroe, a Danish pioneer in the area, a “ farm with its population and everything” and, in 1871, more land from the White brothers, who founded the city's first racecourse  , associated with a circus, in today's Sarmiento Park .  

 Between 1870 and 1880 the renovations were addressed in the town of la chacra, the current headquarters of the museum, under the direction of the architect Manuel Domínguez. Built as a mansion of Italian architecture, it has a U-floor and a portico of Corinthian lines, although it also aspired to dialogue with the surrounding fifths of the mid-nineteenth century.  The main economic activity of  Saavedra  consisted of breeding horses and bred bulls, bred in their estancia de Arrecifes, and which were set up for sales in the Buenos Aires neighborhood founded in 1873. His daughters Estela and Tomasa were successfully engaged in the breeding of ducks and chickens, and they came to have thousands of animals that they marketed in an area that had already been a solar supply of Buenos Aires in Colonia. Towards the end of the nineteenth century it was known as “La Chacra Los Eucaliptos”, which were planted by  Saavedra himself, or “La Chacra del Lago”, due to an artificial lake that remains a recreational enclave for all porteños. Thus, the  Saavedra Museum , a combination of  a social and ecological history of Buenos Aires , always has new things to tell.


Sources:  Museum of the City.  Buenos Aires: CPPHCABA. 2003; The Museum and the neighborhood.   A tour of the José Hernández Museum of Popular Art and Barrio Parque.  Unpublished; Historical Museum of Buenos Aires Cornelio de Saavedra . Buenos Aires: DGMMinCaba. 2011

Publication Date: 06/10/2020

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