Uruguay Opens its New Major Museum

Pablo Atchugarry (2020)
Christo and Jeanne-Claude – California (1976)

Uruguay’s first significant modern art museum Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry (MACA) located in Punta del Este, a seaside resort town opened earlier this month with a retrospective exhibition of Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Uruguay. 

The museum welcomed an excited crowd to see over fifty works from the artists’ estate through drawings, collages, sculptures, and photographs; which were on display for the first time in the country, with Argentine painter Léon Ferrari’s work for international viewing.

The museum sprang out of Uruguayan sculptor, Pablo Atchugarry’s 15-year-old Fundación Pablo Atchugarry, which promotes the visual arts in Uruguay and South America. The foundation has expanded to include an auditorium, galleries, a 99-acre sculpture park, and an outdoor amphitheater with the museum becoming the most recent addition to the property’s vast grounds.

An avid supporter of the arts, Atchugarry has donated over 500 works of art to the museum with intentions to attract international visitors and draw attention to the Uruguayan art scene in contrast to the country’s more traditional museums in Montevideo, which he claims are primarily visited by locals.

Inauguration of MACA – 08/01/2022 – baja 68
Inauguration of MACA – 08/01/2022 – baja 36
Inauguration of MACA – 08/01/2022 – baja 48

Cultural program of MACA Museum

The MACA’s cultural program included launching a six-day film festival on Sunday, January 16th, piano concerts, conferences, seminars, and workshops where different historians and critics from Uruguay and the world participated.

“We aspire for MACA to be a cultural hub, a laboratory, a center for reflection, a place for debates and an educational platform,” said Atchugarry. “We are convinced that MACA will mark a milestone in the cultural panorama of the region and position Uruguay on the map of international museums.”

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry (MACA)
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry (MACA)

The Architecture of MACA Museum

Designed by the architectural firm of Carlos Ott, the building is located within the Foundation’s park, which is intended for monumental sculptures. In a recent interview on Teledoce’s program “Desayunos Informales”, Pablo Atchugarry explained that the museum is conceived “as one more sculpture in the park“, so that visitors can freely enter and leave the building to enjoy nature and the works exhibited inside, and then re-enter one of the museum’s two floors.

Perched on the grounds of the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, the 75,000 sq. ft. museum designed by architect Carlos Ott overlooks a 62-acre sculpture park and expansive grounds that include a heliport, forests and an outdoor amphitheater.

“It is a museum that will deal with Uruguayan art, Rio de la Plata art and art from the entire American continent. I think that MACA will belong to humanity and that as a ship loaded with art, life and dreams, it will lead us to a world of greater understanding and love.”

The Atchugarry family’s collection comprises more than five hundred pieces, including works by Wifredo Lam, Vik Muniz, Louise Nevelson, Frank Stella, and Joaqun Torres-Garca, among others. The collection also notably includes Atchugarry’s first marble sculpture, made in 1979.

Inauguration of MACA – 08/01/2022 – baja 78
Inauguration of MACA – 08/01/2022 – baja 5
09/03/2016 Jovenes Creadores en alta Photo by Nicolás Vidal – 20

Free to Visit

The museum, which will be free to visit, will also host and display works on long-term loan from private collections in Uruguay, Latin America, and Europe. An acquisitions committee was put in place following MACA’s opening.

MACA opened with an international exhibition of works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The exhibition comprised a selection of over 50 works on loan from the artists’ estate, as well as from private collections, all shown in Uruguay for the first time.

The museum will house and exhibit works on long-term loan from private collections in Uruguay, Latin America, and Europe, and admission will be free.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Alta
Photo by Nicolas Vidal – 32 (07/01/2022)

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Alta
Photo by Nicolas Vidal – 13 (07/01/2022)
Christo and Jeanne-Claude Alta
Photo by Nicolas Vidal – 3 (07/01/2022)
Sala Pablo Atchugarry
Photo by Nicolas Vidal – 4 (07/01/2022)