This city is a cultural powerhouse. Here's what to see first.
Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo (MNAD)
Get fancy and take a glimpse into what life, architecture, and design looked like within Buenos Aires during the beginning of the 20th century. Located in Recoleta, one of the city’s ritziest areas, inside the palace of Josefina Alvear and Matías Errázuriz Ortúzar, an aristocratic Argentine family, the c. `1911 building was designed by French architect René Sergent, who also built the Trianon Palace Hotel in Versailles.
Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)
The modern building, surrounded by the Palermo parks and ambassadors' mansions, is known for its permanent collection of famed contemporary Latin American artists, with works by Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Fernando Botero, Antonio Berni and Tarsila do Amaral in its arsenal. Its dynamic team of curators has also put together some of the most interesting temporary exhibits in the city too; one season, they may highlight Argentine or Latin American art, and another, International, modern, or Contemporary.
This 20-year-old private museum is known for its groundbreaking exhibits from world-famous vanguard artists, especially those who've made advancements politically, socially, or technologically. (Ai Weiwei showed there in 2017, and Kazimir Malevich, in 2016). Its installations use innovative technologies and performance art, while the permanent collection includes pieces from renowned Latin American artists. With 48 hours' notice, foreigners can sign up for a guided tour in English; but the museum is small, and navigating solo is totally doable.
Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art (MAMBA)
San Telmo’s experimental modern art museum, housed inside a former tobacco factory, only opened a few years ago—but it's already become a favorite for those active in the city's art community. Museumgoers will learn about modern art from an Argentine perspective, especially since the museum tends to show up-and-coming local artists as well as established big name tickets. The museum has on display more than 7,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art, with works from the 1950s to modern day.
Ruth Benzacar Galería de Arte
The Ruth Benzacar gallery was founded by Benzacar herself in 1965. Her family had hit on hard times, and she decided to turn the house (which she'd previously used to display her own contemporary art collection) into a makeshift gallery. Despite such unfortunate beginnings, it's since become one of the most important and respected galleries in the B.A. art community: run by her daughter Orly and granddaughter Mora, it's known for featuring the work of both established artists and emerging talents. This is where to look for what's new and hot on the B.A. art scene, from photography, to sculpture, and other installations.
Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat Art Collection
This fine arts museum on the Puerto Madero docks, opened in 2008, holds the private collection of mogul Amalia Lacroze, one of the richest women in Argentina. Within its futuristic glass palace overlooking the river are over 240 masterpieces by both international and Argentine artists including Dalí, Rodin, Chagall, Witjens, Badii, and Xul Solar. There's even a portrait of Amalia by Andy Warhol.
Museo Xul Solar
Born Oscar Agustín Alejandro Schulz Solar, Xul Solar's chosen name means "solar light".For many years, he lived with his wife in a small apartment above the museum, and rented out the two apartments below to save up for the "museum to come." Flash forward decades later, and the museum showcases most of Solar’s mind-bending art.
Most people may know about Eva “Evita” Perón from the Broadway show or the movie, but there's more to this former first lady than what was shown. Take a glimpse into the life of one of the most beloved figures in Argentina’s history at this museum, which opened in 2002 on the 50th anniversary of her death; it holds the largest collection of Perón's dresses, letters, and other personal belongings. And, although the museum is totally fascinating, we'd come here just to have lunch in the picturesque garden next to the mansion.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
This is the most well-known museum in all of Argentina—and for good reason. Located in the upscale Recoleta neighborhood, the fine arts museum is home to a staggering collection of 19th-century European art, holdings that include over 700 major works by artists like Goya, Van Gogh, and Toulouse Lautrec.
Museo de Arte Español Enrique Larreta
Spanish influence can be seen across Latin America, though especially in Argentina, where many locals are of Spanish descent. Here in residential Belgrano, beyond the typical tourist track, author Enrique Larreta’s former residence has been turned into the city’s only Spanish museum and cultural center. Highlights include a 16th-century Gothic-style altarpiece; Renaissance and Baroque period paintings; and a portrait of Enrique Larreta himself, along with a number of unique Spanish objects, like weapons and swords and hand-carved sculptures.