Saturday, May 20, 2017

the City of Angels – the treasures within

So, we've covered Puebla's churches and architecture. What about... museums! Let me tell you about four fantastic places in no particular order:

Museo Internacional del Barroco

The International Museum of the Baroque is one huge, beautiful building in the newer part of town. Designed by Japanese architect Itō Toyo'o, this is one stunning building that consists mainly of solid white waves twirling near each other? It's really something. And it's even got a huge pool with its own dark whirlpool in the middle, some terraces with peculiar trees, and a number of views from the different levels. The galleries follow somewhat concentric patterns, in keeping with the curious architecture...

All in all, well worth a visit just for the building itself. 

Unfortunately, what must have been an enormous investment remains just a building, as the collections inside are ok, but nothing to really die for. There was one temporary exhibit on Talavera – the trademark ceramics of Puebla – which was really fascinating, though. It showed you the history of the art, from the ancient Middle East, to Spain, to the Americas, to influences from Asia via the Philippines... This kind of ceramic became so valuable that different and very strict regulations were published already in the 17th century to protect the craft and guarantee its quality.

Like I said, this one temporary exhibit was superb. We loved it. They even had a trunk used by the Manila Galleons (in Spanish known as the Nao de China) that sailed between the Philippines and Mexico! And it portrayed the city of Manila! Awesome.

But that was about it. The rest of the exhibits, I'm afraid, were somewhat interesting, but barely worth the trip if not for the building itself and that one temporary exhibit on Talavera. What a waste of money?

La casa del Deán

Now, the Dean's Palace, wow, what a jewel! This 16th century building contains some magnificent murals, which were preserved thanks to many layers of other materials and paintings on top of them. They were rediscovered barely some 50 years ago! Curiously, they represent non-religious scenes. One of the rooms has paintings of the Sibyls, or ancient Greek oracles. One of them is even carrying the Hebrew Bible and rides blindfolded, as a sign of her not knowing the New Testament.

The other room has murals about Petrarch's Triumphs, with Love triumphing over Men. Death over Love. Fame over Death. Time over Fame. And Divinity over Time.  

What's most interesting, though, is that there are a number of indigenous items, such as local fauna and flora, revealing that indigenous artists must have collaborated in the murals. 

Biblioteca Palafoxiana

The 17th century Palafox Library. Probably the first library in the continent. A quote from the founder: "He who succeeds without books is in an inconsolable darkness, on a mountain without company, on a path without a crosier, in darkness without a guide." Oh, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz read books here. What other reason could you possibly need to visit!?

By the way, there was an exhibition on hebraica, books on Jewish studies to better understand the Bible or the different Jewish populations around the world, including China! Fascinating place, fascinating treasures. 

Museo Amparo

Finally, the Museo Amparo. A must. The collections are not huge so as to leave you exhausted, yet they have the most beautiful pieces you've seen! Their indigenous art section was wild! There was art the like of which we'd never seen! I guess that also testifies to the insane richness of Mexico, but still. There was contemporary art (my favourite being a metal bench with faces and feet), there was a gorgeous collection of photos by Juan Rulfo that made your mind sail among images of a long-gone old Mexico. There was beautiful colonial art that reflected Asian influences on the faces of Christs, as well as numerous figures with richly detailed and gorgeously preserved robes made of painted wood...

Oh, and the photos of most of the domes in my previous post? From the museum's terrace!

So, you see? Puebla is a feast for your eyes in so many ways! But there's still more...

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