National Museum of Decorative Arts, Buenos Aires
The museum has its origins in a marriage in 1897 between two prominent members of turn-of-the-century Argentine high society: Matías Errazúriz, the son of Chilean émigrés, and Josefina de Alvear, the granddaughter of Independence-era leader Carlos María de Alvear.
The couple commissioned French architect René Sergent in 1911 to design a mansion for Errazúriz's future retirement from the diplomatic corps, in which he had been Ambassador to France for a number of years. The ornate Neoclassical structure inspired the Bosch family to commission a similar palace nearby (today the United States Ambassador's residence). Completed in 1916, the couple devoted the following two years to decorating the palace, purchasing a large volume of antiques and other objets d'art.
When Mrs. Errazúriz died in 1935, however, the widower bequeathed the mansion to the Argentine government, on his son's and daughter's advice. The National Museum of Decorative Arts was established in 1937.
Little changed since, the museum maintains twelve exhibit halls and nine permanent collections of over 4,000 objects in all, including:
- paintings: notable among them El Greco's Jesus Bearing the Cross Uphill, Jean-Honoré Fragonard's The Sacrifice of the Rose and Édouard Manet's Portrait of Abbé Hurel
- sculpture: among them an Ancient Roman Minerva, Cristoforo Mantegazza's Adoration of the Magii (a wall relief in marble) and Auguste Rodin's The Eternal Spring
- East Asian art: numerous Chinese vases and jade sculptures from the Chien Lung era, among others; as well as tapestries, porcelains, 18th century furniture, the most important public miniature art collection in the Americas and other antiques, generally from before 1800.
The collection is also complemented by temporary exhibits, and the museum hosts regular choral concerts, as well as classes and seminars. Visitors can also enjoy Café Croque Madame, whose tables are set in the gardens in good weather. The Argentine Academy of Letters has, since 1944, also been housed here.
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- Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo (Spanish)