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Blanes Museum, Uruguay
Blanes Museum, Uruguay | © Jonas de Carvalho/Flickr

The Most Interesting Museums in Uruguay

Picture of Milena Fajardo
Updated: 14 September 2017

Uruguay is famous for its seemingly infinite countryside, climbing hills, beautiful beaches and green cities. If you’re attracted to Uruguay for its outdoors, you might forget to check the great selection of museums it has to offer! Visit these museums to inject a dose of art and culture into your holiday.

Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales – Parque Rodó, Montevideo

The National Museum of Visual Arts is located in the middle of a beautiful park called Parque Rodó, right next to the coastline in Montevideo. It has a permanent collection of mainly 20th century artworks, featuring some of Uruguay’s most prominent and iconic artists. This would be a good start to get the big picture on the last hundred years. The best works in the museum are usually present in the moving exhibitions; they are finely curated years in advance and often show up and coming contemporary artists. Overall, an experience not to be missed.

Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Avenida Tomas Giribaldi, Montevideo, Uruguay

Museo Taller de Casapueblo – Punta Ballena, Punta del Este

Carlos Páez Vilaró, one of Uruguay’s most successful contemporary artists, created this building to be his workshop about 50 years ago. Casapueblo was then generously donated to be turned into a museum so that the public could contemplate the artist’s unique architectural style from the inside. Along with the structure, he also donated a large collection of his paintings and sculptures to be exhibited inside, in order to stimulate culture and dialogue in this region. You should also visit the restaurant from where you can enjoy an astonishing high-up view of the cliffs and ocean in Punta Ballena.

Casapueblo, Punta Ballena, Maldonado, Uruguay

Museo Andes 1972 – Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo

You can learn all about the famous plane accident that inspired the movie “Alive” by Frank Marshall in the 1972 Andes Museum. The tragedy/miracle that happened in the Andes has been well documented in a variety of books (some written by the survivors), and this museum is a great place to expand that knowledge or learn about what happened. It is an important opportunity to experience honor and introspection, to learn and share the values of team spirit, solidarity and friendship that allowed the 16 survivors to “come back from the dead” in this unique event.

Museo Andes 1972, Rincón, Montevideo, Uruguay

Museo Ralli – Punta del Este

The Ralli Museum was architecturally designed with the exclusive purpose of being a museum, which means that all rooms and courtyards are thought out to provide the best experience possible for visitors. The ample exhibition spaces alternate with beautiful inside courtyards displaying bronze and marble sculptures. They have moving exhibitions as well as the permanent collection, which holds exceptional pieces of Latin Contemporary Art, Surrealism Masters and European and Latin American sculptors. Outside, the architecture fuses well with a surrounding tree park, creating a unique environment.

Museo Ralli, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

Museo Del Fútbol – Parque Battle, Montevideo

Uruguay was the first country to host the World Cup, having won two Football Olympics before the World Cup was created. To host it, they built the biggest football stadium to that date in the country, Estadio Centenario. The stadium was built in record time, and was declared a Historic Monument of Worldwide Football by FIFA, the only construction of this type to hold the title. Uruguay won the First World Cup, in 1930, and again in 1950. If you’re passionate about football be prepared to learn much more in the Museum of Football located inside one of the famous stadium’s tribunes.

Museo del Fútbol, Avenue Doctor Americo Ricaldoni, Montevideo, Uruguay

SUBTE Exhibition Centre – Montevideo City Centre

Most of the country’s art competitions and awards are hosted at SUBTE, one of the few exhibition centers focused on Contemporary Art in Montevideo. Their aim is to exploit the potential of the contemporary scene by supporting emerging artists, holding exhibitions and hosting talks and debates. Expect to discover national and regional artists that aim to change Latin perceptions through video, sculpture and new media, confronting topics like technology, politics, relationships, and more.

Centro De Exposiciones Subte, Montevideo, Uruguay

Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indígena – Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo

The Pre-Columbian and Indigenous Art Museum offers visitors a permanent exhibition of archeological and ethnological pieces, that belong to different cultures native to the American continent. You will find artifacts, pottery, musical instruments, tools, sculptures and even toys belonging to a completely different time in American history. Mainly showing pieces from the Paleoindian time period, the collections are organized by theme and geographical-cultural areas. The museum is also involved in academic research, publications and temporary exhibits on different aspects surrounding its theme. It has also organized touring exhibitions in Europe and Latin America.

MAPI, 25 de Mayo, Montevideo, Uruguay

Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo – Tres Cruces, Montevideo

This Contemporary Art Space recently opened in a converted 1800’s prison. You really shouldn’t miss the incredible experience of attending the contemporary art exhibitions in this setting. All exhibitions are temporary, carefully selected by a team of curators who give artists exposure by exhibiting within the institution. Artists can also be residents and create art from inside the walls of the former prison. The prison, a large, imposing building of grey rusty walls, with a big inside courtyard, was built at the height of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon theory, and it is the oldest Latin American building to be preserved in its original format.

Contemporary Art Space, Arenal Grande, Montevideo, Uruguay

Museo Blanes – Prado, Montevideo

Juan Manuel Blanes was a famous painter from the late 1800s. He was commissioned to depict the famous battles that gave rise to Uruguay’s independence. He also painted several portraits of Uruguay’s aristocracy and depictions of domestic life and the countryside, in the style of Realism. The Blanes Museum features some of his most prominent works, along with other famous Uruguayan artists from the time. It is said that the architecturally spectacular house belonged to a member of the aristocracy, who locked his wife in the attic one day and never allowed her out again. The museum staff believe that her ghost roams the museum, still unable to leave the house…

Museo Blanes, Avenida Millán, Montevideo, Uruguay

Museo Torres García – Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo

Joaquín Torres García is one of the most internationally renowned Uruguayan painters, from the 20th Century. He coined the term “constructive universalism”, to define his art movement based on finding a common universal pictorial language. The Torres García Museum is dedicated to his life’s work, and his workshop, where he trained several artists that followed his style. He also constructed instruments that would aid him in achieving a particular ratio on his drawings and paintings, which are full of symbolism.

Museo Torres García, Sarandí, Montevideo, Uruguay

Museo del Azulejo – Montevideo City Centre

The stunning Tile Museum exhibits more than 5000 pieces collected in over 40 years, dating from 1790 to 1930 approximately. All tiles were imported from different countries, resulting in an incredibly wide variety of styles, techniques, themes and formats. It also features temporary exhibitions by national artists, and its architecture is a combination of Art Decó and Rationalism. Truly an unforgettable experience for travelers who are passionate about the tiles in Portugal and Barcelona, for example.

Museo del Azulejo, Yí, Montevideo, Uruguay

Fundación Pablo Atchugarry – Manantiales, Punta del Este

The Pablo Atchugarry Foundation is an enormous estate with several indoor facilities that hold temporary exhibitions and sculptures by the artist, Pablo Atchugarry. Its most prominent feature is the astonishing sculpture park, the artist’s collection that brings together works by sculptors from all over the world, from the 20th and 21st centuries. Walking around the park, with its forests and lake, will enthuse even the least artsy of people because of the unique connection formed between art and nature.

Fundación Pablo Atchugarry, El Chorro, Maldonado Department, Uruguay

The sculpture park view of the Fundación Pablo Atchugarry in Uruguay

Fundación Pablo Atchugarry, Uruguay © Jimmy Balcovicius / Flickr | © Jimmy Baikovicius/Flickr

Museo Gurvich – Ciudad Vieja, Uruguay

José Gurvich was a very prominent Uruguayan artist and disciple of Joaquín Torres García. The excellently curated Gurvich Museum will take you on a chronological tour of his work, which starts on the top floor of the building and continues down. Experience the shift between the artist’s humble beginnings as a disciple, true to his master’s pictorial style, to a mature, independent artist who created transcendental pieces like there had never been seen before.

Museo Gurvich, Sarandí, Montevideo, Uruguay