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Museo Etnográfico Juan B. Ambrosetti (Ethnographic Museum)

Museo Etnográfico Juan B. Ambrosetti (Ethnographic Museum) Review

Given that the 100-peso bill still honors General Roca, the man responsible for the massacre of most of Patagonia's indigenous population, it's not surprising that information on Argentina's original inhabitants is sparse. This fascinating but little-visited museum is a welcome remedy.

Begun by local scientist Juan Bautista Ambrosetti in 1904, the collection originally focused on so-called exotic art and artifacts, such as the Australasian sculptures and Japanese temple altar showcased in the rust-color introductory room. The real highlights, however, are the Argentine collections: this would be an eye-opening introduction to a visit to Argentina's far north or south.

The ground-floor galleries trace the history of human activity in Patagonia, with an emphasis on the tragic results of the European arrival. Dugout canoes, exquisite Mapuche silver jewelry, and scores of archive photos and illustrations are the main exhibits.

In the upstairs northwestern Argentina gallery the focus is mainly archaeological. Displays briefly chronicle the evolution of Andean civilization, the heyday of the Inca empire, and postcolonial life. Artifacts include ceramics, textiles, jewelry, farming tools, and even food: anyone for some 4,000-year-old corn?

The collection is run by the liberal Philosophy and Letters Faculty of the University of Buenos Aires. Although their insightful labels and explanations are all in Spanish, you can ask for a photocopied sheet with English versions of the texts. It's a pleasure just to wander the quiet, light-filled 19th-century town house that houses both the collection and an anthropological library. The peaceful inner garden is the perfect place for some post-museum reflection.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Moreno 350, Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires C1091AAH | Map It
  • Phone: 11/4345–8196
  • Cost: 3 pesos
  • Hours: Tues.–Fri. 1–7, weekends 3–7
  • Website:
  • Metro Line A to Plaza de Mayo; Line D to Catedral; Line E to Bolívar.
  • Location: Centro and Environs
Updated: 03-31-2011

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