Montevideo Museums

Yesterday was museum day. Incredibly windy, so much so that I saw a man carrying a briefcase have to press his case next to his body to keep it from flying away – he needed more paper or a stronger grasp. I would also say everyone including me was leaning into the wind to keep going in the direct in we were heading.

The museums are located in the other end of the same barrio as my hotel, at the other end of Independencia Square. They are housed in the fine old mansions if the 1880s, many not currently transformed are in disrepair, abandoned and in a sorry state. More are abandoned, only 10% are saved.


Museum of Fine Arts was arranged by date showing Greek and Roman artifacts. The building had less that optimal lighting in general and the pieces had titles but no explanatory notes. Many were reproductions, such as the Il Davide from Florence. It was as if the budget allowed little support for the museum, there was no entrance fee – perhaps there should have been. There only two other people in the two story building aside from the guard and the person at the entry desk.

The Museum of Pre-Colombian Art showed mostly Mexican art of the Maya, Aztec, and Inca, nothing from the indigenous local people. The whole show was curated by the Canadian government – what? It is true the art was Pre-Colombian, but not what I anticipated. This museum also had a delightful cafe where there were more people than in the museum. Not certain if the museum was a gift of Canada.

This was also the day of my splurge dining. The restaurant rate best in the city is in the same area, the restaurant is called Rara Avis, a text says that rara avis is Latin expression meaning the “with the soul of the theater”. Indeed it’s is located in the Theater Solis., the nationaltheater of Uruguay and the home of the Montevideo Philharmonic Orchestra.

The restaurant is “fine”in the sense that room is grand, the furnishings elegant, the napery and chrystal settings fit for a king, or at least a prince or two. The setting is grand. That food, not so much, or at least the items I selected were edible but otherwise would not be recommended as ‘tasty’. In the grand room there were between 5 – 10% of tables occupied, many by a couple of business men, one, near me by three people I would guess were related elders. Of course this was 2 PM lunch on a Wednesday, but still.

My lunch consisted of a Tuscan Salad, Risottos Caprese, a glass of Tannat wine, and water. The salad was delivered with olive oil (very good) and balsamic vinegar and salt in a small platter. It was a huge portion, enough for 2 or 3, mostly fresh green leaves of lettuce on top of green and black olives, cherry tomatoes, sun flower seeds, prosciutto (their version) and a few capers. Notable only for its size, it would have virtually tasteless without the dressing added.

The risotto would be better I thought. Not really. Also incredibly bland, the texture was right, the taste not so much. I was able to treat the dish with the salad dressing components, and had about 1/4 of the amount served. The wine was good, serviceable red wine. I have never heard of Tannat, the national wine, but I intend to find out whether we grow it in the US.

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On the planet in California

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