Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico San Juan, PR
the museum’s permanent collection features works by Latin American artists from the 17th century onward

Year Established: 2000

The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico opened its doors in the summer of 2000 – truly a museum for the 21st century. Visitors enter the 13,000 square feet property through a majestic, neoclassical building originally built in 1920, when it served as the San Juan Municipal Hospital. The East Wing, however, was expressly built to house the museum’s expansive collection. Its contemporary design is accentuated by the impressive stained-glass back window that runs the height of three of its five stories.

The museum’s permanent collection features works by Latin American artists from the 17th century onward and includes everything from painting to mixed media installations. Some of the highlights include the obras maestras, or masterpieces, of renowned Puerto Rican artists. Among these you will find José Campeche and Francisco Oller. While Campeche – the son of a former slave — helped jumpstart the fine arts in 18th century Puerto Rico, Oller is credited with elevating the island to the international stage. Educated in Europe, Oller had a hand in the Impressionist movement, and yet the subjects of his still lives and landscapes are inextricably Puerto Rican. The museum also constantly brings in exciting new exhibits that make for worthwhile repeat visits, whether it be avant-garde pieces or art from the pre-colonial era.

After enjoying the galleries, visitors might want to head outside into the sculpture gardens, accessible from the 2nd floor. This natural exhibit space boasts hundreds of thousands of plants, including 26 species of trees. Back inside the building, the 2nd floor is also the site of the activArte Gallery, a learning space for children with interactive activities such as a labyrinth, art puzzles, and informative computer programs.

The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico also extends its reach to dance, music, and film, hosting year-round cultural events within its 400-seat Raúl Juliá Theater. Fine-dining is elevated to an art in acclaimed Chef Wilo Benet’s flagship restaurant, the upscale and modern Pikayo. The originals works of art might not be up for sale at the museum’s gift shop, but it does feature souvenirs for even the toughest art critic. On Wednesdays the museum stays open later than usual, offering free admission from 2pm to 8pm as well. This museum is not to be overlooked. It’s also not to be looked at in a rush. So, give yourself time to enjoy everything the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico has to offer.