Marching the Museum Mile

2011.Aug.08 Monday · 3 comments

in Life

“I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums.”

– Steven Wright, comedian

A bit over a year ago the local government created a cultural pathway that they dubbed the Milla de los Museos Buenos Aires, or Buenos Aires Museum Mile. It’s a selection of sixteen museums more or less along or just off of Av. Libertador, that starts in Retiro and ends in Palermo and covers a wide range of types of museums. I thought that over the next few weeks I’d hit up those that I’ve not yet been to. The first one is the Torre Monumental, or what most folks call the English Tower – the huge clock tower in the plaza outside of the Retiro Station. I didn’t realize they had a museum and it wasn’t open at the time I passed by, so it will be saved for a near future visit. Second on the list is the Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco at Suipacha 1422, just off Libertador, which I’ve visited numerous times and gave a cursory write-up to at one point. Since they don’t allow photography inside I probably won’t do a further post – it’s interesting and I love its courtyard as a quiet place to sit, but it’s not one of my favorite museums.

Third on the list is the Museo Nacional Ferroviario Raúl Scalabrini Ortiz at Avenida Libertador 405, which is where I found myself pretty much at the start of my walk. Ostensibly dedicated to the rail system of Argentina, and while certainly that forms a good portion of the collection, it’s a somewhat dilapidated old railway building that houses displays of a wide variety of electrical machinery, much of which has little to nothing to do with riding the rails.

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
Outside the entrance.

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
A view from one of the mezzanines over part of the museum.

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
I have no idea, it’s got wires and glass and metal and, well, it’s just a guy thing.

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
Collection of old wall phones.

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
Street lamps and porch lights.

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
Early electric typewriters, adding machines, and even a very early Olivetti desktop computer.

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
A very few things aren’t electrical – there’s a collection of old toilets and water filtration systems.

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
If you thought your copier was out of date….

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
There is a fair amount of train related stuff, in particular many models (I like the colorful plastic toy one above as well).

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
Outside of objects, there’s one room devoted to the history of the system that was the most interesting part of it all. Wall posters cover the history of the system from its inception in 1857 with a single line…

Museo Nacional Ferroviario
…to its peak in the 1950s when the lines covered over 47,000 kilometers (30,000 miles) across the country. These days, it’s less than half that, with around 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles) of train service in operation, mostly centered around suburban transit from the city of Buenos Aires to parts of the surrounding province, and a few longer lines to places like Rosario and Mar del Plata (yes, I know that this photo isn’t from then, it’s from 1910 when it covered around the same as it does now).


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ries August 13, 2011 at 16:51

I find it interesting that they left out the natural Number 2 museum in this progression, the Museo de Armas-
physically, its located right between the torre and the ferriovario. And its located in a beautiful building, and the collection itself is small but nice.
Is this political correctness? As I recall, there is no ideological bent to the exhibits- no more so than many other museums, at least.

My own scorecard is only about 8 of these museums so far- I will have to get busy.

dan August 13, 2011 at 17:59

There has to be some point where they decide what constitutes the “tour” that they intended. There are dozens of museums that they could have added on that are within a couple of blocks of Libertador, as is the Museo de Armas… right next to that is the Palacio Paz which has its own collection, and there are various others around the area. They also skipped the science and technology museum right next to the MALBA, and the Roca Museum of Historical Investigation (of Spiritualism) right by the cemetery. Who knows? I think the intent was to keep things pretty much in a straight line on or just barely off of Libertador/Alcorta and to give visitors a taste of different types of collections available (it’s promoted as a 3-day walking/biking tour), and with the exception of the Museo Evita (a somewhat odd choice, not because of content, but because I believe it’s a private museum rather than a government one), they all are.

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