Visiting Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires

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Recoleta Cultural Center

Centro Cultural Recoleta (The Recoleta Cultural Centre) is an exhibition and cultural events centre located in the barrio of Recoleta tucked behind the Recoleta Cemetery. It holds sculptures and exhibitions, as well as concerts, book presentations, poetry readings and dramatic performances and a range of workshops. The building which houses the centre is one of the oldest in the city, constructed in 1732 and has served many purposes in its lifetime. It was originally donated to the Franciscan monks Recoletos who used the building and adjoining cemetery until 1822. After the May Revolution and Argentina’s independence one of its first uses was a drawing school before it was converted to the Beggars Asylum in 1859. It was then the barracks and nursing homes Viamonte Governor before finally becoming the Cultural Center it is today in 1980.

centro-cultural-in-recoleta

The building is visually stunning from the outside with its rust coloured bricks, a dozen spires and surrounding sculptors. Out the back of the building is several lovely cafe and the best view of the former Neo-Gothic Chapel of the Asylum, used now as an auditorium. Inside it gets even better. This building by far is the most beautiful gallery space I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Long corridors with arched ceilings are flooded with natural light from the internal courtyard, Los Patios de los Naranjos (The Orange Yards). Off the corridors are small exhibition rooms, previously the Monk’s cloisters, of various sizes each holding a different collection of work. These small exhibits consisted of some really great contemporary pieces from local and international artists and ranged from photography to painting to sculptor. The juxtaposition of the contemporary work with the historical building adds another level to the usual gallery experience.

There is also a large exhibition hall towards the back of the building, that is a more traditional gallery space. This space currently houses the life retrospective of Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri presented by Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo in Rome. His large scale photographs had a cinematic quality. Barbieri exploits the situational light, natural and artificial, and a tilt shift focus to create ethereal city landscapes playing with ideas of representation and reality.

The Cultural Centre is ever so conveniently located next to not only the must see Recoleta Cemetery and the 18th century church Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar. This stunning white church is the oldest in Buenos Aires, and second oldest building. It is also where Buenos Aires’ elite families hold weddings and other ceremonies. It is worth looking inside for its baroque silver altarpiece and its pre-hispanic features. You can go upstairs to its cloisters, which were opened to the public in 1997, now a small museum housing religious artefacts over the centuries. Pro tip: You can get great views of the Cemetery from above! The combination and concentration of history, architecture and art makes Recoleta the perfect location for a day out, and with all three being free to enter it would be plain rude not to.

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