The museums at Casa Santo Domingo can be found in the Paseo de los Museos and include the Colonial Museum, the Silver Museum, and the pre-Columbian & Modern Glass Museum.
This year the International Council of Museums celebrates International Museum Day – May 18 – with the theme “Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums.” As stated, “this theme focuses on the role of museums that, by working to benefit society, become hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people. It also highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation.”
The finest museums in La Antigua Guatemala are found at the Paseo de los Museos inside the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo. The Colonial Museum, the Silver Museum, the Pre-Columbian & Modern Glass Museum, exhibits at the Marco Antonio Quiroa Galleries, and the Archaeology exhibit are part of this spectacular visit, as are two crypts – one complete with a mural painting – and much more. The Colegio de Santo Tomas, owned by the University of San Carlos of Guatemala, is also part of the Paseos, or Promenade. The Q48 per person admission is well worth a visit and allows for plenty of time to enjoy a very pleasant surprise.
The first exhibits opened at the Colonial Museum in 2000 and other museums followed. When Philippe Malgouyres, from the Louvre Museum in Paris, visited Guatemala in July 2013, he noted that two of the finest Guatemalan colonial sculptures are found at the Paseo. One is the baby Jesus sculpture on the second floor of the Museo Colonial which received a 9 out of a 10 rating worldwide. It is made out of cedar, covered with a fine coat of plaster, special paint and varnish. The detail and glass eyes are exquisite and show how Guatemalan colonial sculpture – after 1650 – is the finest in Spanish America!
While little as been written about Guatemalan colonial silver works, Guatemala also surpasses other Spanish American countries with some of the finest workmanship and design. Josefina Alonso de Rodriguez (1979) put together a detailed list of Guatemalan colonial silver artists who created religious works beginning in the 16th century. The Guatemalan highlands near Quetzaltenango were also a center for silver artists who created chandeliers, lecterns, crowns for sculptures, monstrances and chalices to mention a few items. Guatemalans from various backgrounds – blacks, Maya, the racially mixed and “Spanish,” many of whom were born in Guatemala – created lovely religious works of art for the colonial homes and churches. The sculpture of St. Michael inside the Silver Museum received a rating of 10 out of a 10 from Philippe on his visit to Guatemala!
One of my favorite museums in the world is the Pre-Columbian and Modern Glass Museum sponsored by the VICAL Foundation. Originally collected by Mr. Edgar Castillo Sinibaldi and curated today by Susana Campins, the comparison of ancient Guatemalan Maya artifacts with modern glass works from all over the world, including Baccarat, Daum, Lalique, Kosta Boda and Moser, is remarkable. Focusing on design; color and form; human figure; urns, burials and faces; animals and jewelry, we see how similar art forms are observed. This is also one of the finest museums in Spanish America.
Keep posted to the Revue website, for upcoming information about the “Art Park” with contemporary Guatemalan works of art.
See related post: theantiguaguide.com/museums
REVUE article: GUATEMALA INSIGHT
by Elizabeth Bell, author/historian.