Visit Cuenca’s Museum of Modern Art

Visitors to the charming city of Cuenca will find a wealth of history and culture to enjoy. An abundance of beautifully preserved historical buildings has resulted in the center of the Cuenca being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also home to a number of interesting museums, one of which is the Municipal Museum of Modern Art (Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno), housed in a historic building that has served a number of purposes over the years, including being a recovery center for alcoholics and a prison, before being restored and repurposed by Banco Central in 1982.

Surrounding a courtyard with landscaped gardens, the museum has two large wings with small galleries displaying artworks, as well as an auditorium. Visitors to the museum should take time to explore each of the galleries and soak up the tranquility of the garden courtyard. In addition to permanent and semi-permanent displays which change every month, the museum hosts art exhibitions from other parts of Ecuador and from overseas. Artists who have exhibited works at the museum include Jésus Soto, Honorato Vásquez, Francisco Goya, Luís Felipe Noe, Pérez Celis, Juan Villafuerte, Oswaldo Guayasamín, Enrique Tábara, Oswaldo Muñoz, and Oswaldo Moreno.

With the inaugural event taking place in April 1987, the International Painting Biennial of Cuenca, organized through a non-profit organization, has boosted the museum’s collection significantly. The Biennial is open to artists from the Americas, via selected institutions that consult with the organizers in Cuenca. Among the works obtained through Biennial events are those of Cuenca-born artist Luis Crespo Ordoñez (1904-2004), who studied at the School of Fine Arts in Cuenca, earning a Gold Medal from the Academy of Fine Arts and a scholarship to study in Quito. After receiving a government scholarship to study in Europe, Ordoñez studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris, before traveling to Spain to study at the School of Arts of San Fernando in Madrid.

In addition to the galleries bursting at the seams with marvelous artworks, the museum maintains an art library which is open to scholars, researchers and other interested parties by prior arrangement. Certainly, the museum is a worthwhile addition to the itinerary of visitors to Cuenca.