Cuenca's wealthy Ordóñez family donated its spacious home to the Catholic Church in 1599, whereupon it became the cloistered convent of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, or the Conceptas. Four centuries later, part of this well-preserved edifice houses the Museum of the Monastery of the Conception, which contains an impressive collection of religious art from the 16th to the 19th centuries. This is a must-see stop for an understanding of colonial art, all of which
focused on religion, and none of which was ever signed by the artist. (Most pieces here are labeled "anónimo".) The well-informed guides—take a tour conducted in Spanish, English, or French—explain that service to God was deemed more important than any artistic recognition. (That didn't stop some artists from incorporating their own faces in their works.) Most of the collection was contributed by families whose daughters entered the convent. Half the building is still inaccessible, the cloistered nuns emerging only after closing to clean the museum. No one except the museum director has face-to-face contact with them.
Hermano Miguel 6–33, between Juan Jaramillo and Presidente Córdova, Cuenca, 010150, Ecuador