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MUSEO SAN FRANCISCO :: bolivia guide
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  2020 August 05    Hotel reservation  NEW SITE (closed)  NEW SITE !!!  
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You are in: La Paz
Sightseeing - Less0than0USightseeing0 - MUSEO SAN FRANCISCO
 
MUSEO SAN FRANCISCO

Plaza San Francisco #503
Tel. 231 34 35

 
 

Monday - Sunday 9:00 to 18:00
Entrance fee - Bs. 20

A look inside La Paz’s architectural gem

 

Housed in the buildings adjacent to the San Francisco church, the newly inaugurated Museo San Francisco has to be one of the most remarkable museums in Bolivia. Considering the church’s magnificence, this may not be particularly surprising to some. The museum has so much to offer, however, that it almost supersedes the church itself, the reason for its existence.

 

The Museo San Francisco has a long list of attractions to recommend itself. To begin at the foundations so to speak – its architecture is truly inspiring; a series of intimate salas lie off light and airy cloisters of generous proportions. From its initial construction in 1549 by the Franciscan order to the August 2005 restorations, the museum incorporates nearly four hundred and fifty years of history among its walls. This historical span is evident. In the sala con pintura mural, the walls are decorated with centuries old frescoes. In the main cloister, the modern touch is dominant, with terracotta and bright blue paint (and even an electric blue effigy of Christ) lighting up the walls.

 

Good things come in large packages

On top of the museum’s architectural splendour is its sheer size. The museum is vast. If it were not for the helpful arrows and well-signed exhibits and rooms, you could quite easily get lost in its labyrinthine corridors. This would not be such a bad thing though with such a variety of exhibits to occupy the museum’s visitors. Of note are the bodega, which contains the original barrels, vats and press used by the monks to make wine, the cell of Fray Juan de Dios Delgado, in its original sparse state, and the sala de la Redención which displays an impressive collection of anonymous paintings depicting in dramatic fashion the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

 

The museum also has exhibits explaining the history of the Franciscan order, including the life of Saint Francis de Assisi, the foundation of the Franciscan order and its missions and the continuing work of the monks today amongst Bolivia’s needy.

 

A universal message

The museum also has a room set aside for temporary exhibits. Recently, the museum was host to an Anne Frank exhibition, telling the story of her life and the plight of many other Jews through photography, news stories of the time and excerpts from her own journal. Although a seemingly idiosyncratic display, the exhibition is of universal relevance in its appeal for toleration and acceptance in a world still riddled by discrimination, a social ill which, considering the prejudice that exists among the different ethnic groups in this country, Bolivia is by no means innocent of.

 

Up in the gods

Of all the various rooms and exhibits, the choir and ceilings section is arguably the best. Here, in the upper echelons of the church itself, you can sit on centuries old cedar wood pews that the monks used to sing hymns and prayers from. The choir is also the perfect vantage point to admire the artwork on the ceiling of the church (which is not so easily visible from the church floor) or to watch worshippers quietly at prayer below.

 

The museum can be navigated solo, for those wanting a deeper insight into each exhibit however, one and a half hour guided tours in English, French and Spanish are available from one of the several helpful and cheerful volunteer guides at no extra cost. And once you have wound your way around the exhibition rooms, the museum’s cafe, Profumi di Café, will serve you with a delicious espresso as your reward.

 

Plaza San Francisco 503

09:00 - 21:00

Admission: (International) Students Bs 5

Nationals Bs 10

Non-Nationals Bs 20


Emma Pearson

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