MACBA & MAMBA in San Telmo
The barrio of San Telmo is the oldest in Buenos Aires and, with its picturesque colonial buildings and cobblestones, it is a popular tourist destination. Sundays are the most popular and people flood into the neighborhood to visit the weekly flea market or Feria de Antigüedades. On any given day, however, you can find people hanging out in the variety of cafes, pizzerias, antique shops, and tango parlors. In the main square, Plaza Dorrego, you can watch tango dancers almost any time of the day or sit down for a drink while doing some people watching.
San Telmo is also home to two wonderful Buenos Aires museums, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Buenos Aires (MACBA) and the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires (MAMBA), located right next to each other on Avenida San Juan. For any museum or art lovers both these museums are well worth the visit and you can cover both of them in a few hours.
The MACBA is a relatively new museum, only having opened in September of 2012 and its mission is to serve as a forum of different trends in contemporary art. It focuses particularly on geometric abstractions. There’s seven floors, all relatively small and very minimalist in style, a true reflection of the art shown.
If you want to save on the entrance fee drop by on Wednesdays when the general admission is 15 pesos; students, teachers, and seniors get in free with identification. Every other day it’s 25 pesos for adults and 15 pesos for students, teachers, and seniors. Kids under 12 get in free all the time. Remember you’re in Argentina so the museum opens later Monday – Friday 12 pm to 7 pm, weekends 11am to 7:30pm. Don’t come Tuesday, they’re closed.
Situated right next door, the MAMBA is much larger and features an interesting collection of modern art, naturally. Unlike the collection it exhibits inside, the building itself is almost one hundred years old, with the colonial architecture typical of the San Telmo neighborhood. Before it was home to the museum it was a Piccardo cigarette factory. MAMBA was founded in 1956 by the art critic Rafael Squirru to serve as a space for the vanguard of visual arts, including photography and design.
The best day to visit MAMBA is on Tuesdays when it’s free; the worst day is Monday when it’s closed (except holidays). Any other days the general admission is 15 pesos and the hours are 11am to 7pm on the weekdays, 11am-8pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
If the museums don’t satisfy your craving for art, you can simply wander around the rest of San Telmo. The walls of the buildings are full of street art and graffiti and this bohemian neighborhood plays host to a number of emerging artists as well as a gallery scene. For a more organized perspective and historical insight you can join the San Telmo Art Walk which is put on by the non-profit art organization Juanele who use the proceeds to sponsor up and coming artists.