Museums are one of the best ways to learn about Uruguay’s history and famous artists. Most Uruguayan museums are free of charge and accommodating for non-English speakers, although they tend to be open only for sporadic hours and are not always well identified.
Museo de Historia Natural
The Museo de Historia Natural is hidden in the streets of Cuidad Vieja in a large, old building. The staff is not bilingual nor is there a paper in English for one to pick up and go through the museum with.
The museum’s first room is the natural history room. It includes some really interesting objects such as weapons, bowls, and even a stone airplane. This room describes the indigenous people that once inhabited Uruguay.
The rest of the museum is set up so that there are rooms surrounding the central, natural history room and these are in chronological order. A map in the natural history room details the procession you should take.
Each of the rooms have different artifacts from the time period the room represents, such as tables, chairs, weapons, books, declarations from the King, and others. There are also rooms dedicated to the liberation of Uruguay and therefore Artigas and the others who assisted him.
One of the most interesting displays is a gigantic book of the history of Uruguay. This book is one of the most elaborate I have ever seen and appears to document the history of Uruguay from 1830 until 1930.
Overall, this museum was a pleasant one to visit, although I believe many Uruguayos do not.
Museo del Gaucho
This museum is located on Ave. 18 de Julio, one of Montevideo’s main shopping streets. The Gaucho Museum and the Mint Museum share the same refurnished house.
A stop in this museum may be worth it just to see the building it is in. The house it that holds this museum is one of the oldest in city. This house has solid marble steps up to the second floor and incredibly beautiful, ornate ceilings and walls.
Museo del Gaucho chronicles the life of the Uruguyo cowboy. This museum shows the clothes that they worn, the tools and weapons they used, as well as five life-size horses to demonstrate what gear the horses required. There is even a special section for the types of mates and bombillas that were used.
Some of the most interesting aspects of this museum are the many statues and paintings of the Gaucho. This artwork always portrays the gaucho in a positive, nearly god-like state. The reverence of the gaucho is definitely evident in the artwork held at this museum.
The rooms downstairs displays the different clothing that the women wore during the reign of the Gaucho. It also shows how the clothing went together and what materials were used.
Although museo del Gaucho is not run by bilingual staff they do have pamphlets in about twenty different languages so anyone can guide themselves through the museum easily.