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Uruguay has long wrestled with the notion of national identity. A country that struggled for centuries to free itself from its overbearing neighbors, it’s now one of the most open-minded, multicultural nations in South America. Montevideo – Uruguay’s magnetic capital – is home to some incredible museums that showcase this mish-mash of cultures. Check out the best museums in town for everything from Uruguay’s own gaucho tradition to European Renaissance masterpieces.
Discover Uruguay’s collection of European treasures at Palacio Taranco – an early 20th century mansion, designed by French architects Charles-Louis Girault and Jules-Leon Chifflot. The archaeological collection at Museo de Artes Decorativas spans the Grecian, Roman and Persian empires, while its paintings come from Spanish Baroque artist Diego Velázquez and Dutch Golden Age master Bartholomeus van der Helst, among others. It’s worth a visit for its ornate interiors alone.
Museo de Artes Decorativas, 25 de Mayo 376, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2915 1101
Uruguay’s answer to the cowboy, the gaucho is a legendary figure in the nation’s proud history. Museo del Gaucho perfectly captures this rustic, countryside culture with an exhibition of traditional gaucho gear, including horse tack, ponchos and decorative mates – the quintessentially Uruguayan accessory. Learn all about how the country was built on the backs of these old-time ranchers and their enormous herds of cattle. The skilled silver and leather work on show is a real treat.
Museo del Gaucho, Avenida 18 de Julio 998, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2900 8764