Night at the museums

19 Jul, 2011 | Seneca Garrison


Saturday May the 21st marked the fifth annual ‘Noches de Museos’ in La Paz. Every year, the doors of museums and galleries are left open from the evening, through the wee hours of the morning, and until the amanecer to give the public free access to the artistic side of the city for one special night. This year’s Night of the Museums was bigger than ever and drew crowds almost too large for the narrow street where the event first originated, the supposedly haunted calle Jaen.

All types – from parents and toddlers to hippies and three-piece suits – mingled in the queues to get into the museums. For those less interested in the local history or too impatient to wait out the lines, vendors and musicians filled every empty crevice on the cobbled road. Nothing can beat enjoying a hot api while shopping for local handicrafts to the sound of an acoustic guitar on a chilled Bolivian night.

While the street was undoubtedly teeming with people, the crowds flowed with ease and affability. The real highlight of the night was the local photography, paintings, and handicrafts on display in the galleries hidden between the museums. But don’t get carried away by the feelgood ambiance of the streets; the museums themselves are not to be missed. While they are open to the public all year round, the galleries fill themselves to the brim for this event to help boost awareness for the city’s artistic activities and cultural heritage. Once a year, for one night only, some of the most remarkable works produced in the city come together in one single place.

While you’ll have to wait for next year’s Night of the Museums to get the full experience, you can visit the four municipal museums (Museo Costumbrista Juan de Vargas, Museo del Litoral Boliviano, Museo de Metales Preciosos Precolombinos, and Museo Casa de Murillo, all located on calle Jaen) any day but Monday, or the Nacional Museum of Art (calle Comercio) every Thursday. For free!


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