Guayasamín’s Tribute to Fellow Latin Americans

Located in the Bellavista neighborhood overlooking the city of Quito, La Capilla del Hombre is an art museum designed by Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919-1999) as a tribute to the people of Latin America. Visitors to La Capilla del Hombre can view at leisure the murals painted by Guayasamín depicting the manner in which Latin Americans have changed through history, from pre-Columbian times through to the 20th century. The artist is well known for his ability to express the emotions of his subjects and this is evident both in the murals, and his other works displayed at the museum and the nearby Fundacion Guayasamín Museum.

During construction of the museum, and coincidently on the day Oswaldo Guayasamín passed away, 10 March 1999, a complex of fourteen pre-Inca tombs were discovered. These have been preserved under cover and can be viewed by visitors to the museum. Researchers have determined that the area, named Loma de Guanguiltagua, was inhabited by people from an era referred to as the Integration Period, prior to the arrival of the Incas. More than 2,200 ceramics and fragments were retrieved from the site. This archeological discovery is considered to be particularly valuable as it provides insight into indigenous ancestry and helps established a timeline in Ecuador’s history.

Guayasamín envisioned the cultural complex in 1985 and determined that it would be cared for by the foundation bearing his name which he created in 1976. In 1989, the artist approached UNESCO with his proposed project and it was approved by the General Director at the time, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, with international aid rendered to finance the museum’s construction in Quito, the Ecuadorian city which already had UNESCO recognition for its value to the common heritage of mankind. The building of the museum started in 1995, but sadly Guayasamín passed away before it was completed in 2002. Capilla del Hombre Guayasamín was inaugurated on 29 November 2002, and is a worthwhile addition to the itinerary of visitors to the city of Quito.