Regular readers of this ongoing museums series (likely only my wife), will recall last month’s failed visit to the Railway Museum and the corresponding bet about whether it would be open in time for a review in this edition. Since the bet was a copy of the XelaWho magazine you’re now holding (unless you’re part of the magazine’s large online readership), lets just say the editors have asked me not to collect my winnings.
That’s right the Railway Museum is still closed. But while checking to see if the museum had re-opened, I discovered that Xela also has an art museum! Don’t feel bad about your lack of knowledge, the guard outside the Centro Intercultural didn’t seem to know it existed either. As a bonus, it wins the title for the longest name in the Xela museum world, Museo de Colección del Arte de Casa de la Cultura de Occidente, and is the runner up (to the Museo de la Marimba) for the most factually incorrect name, since it isn’t actually housed in the Casa de Cultura (they were kicked out of this Zone 1 location in 2001) but in the Centro Intercultural (in Zone 3).
With more paintings stacked on the floor than on the wall, the museum looks more like a studio or storage space upon first view. But closer examination reveals some good works by internationally renowned Guatemalan artists. Much of the exhibited work is from winners of the Arturo Martinez prize, annually given by a local jury to an outstanding Guatemalan artist.
Despite its interesting collection, the museum doesn’t draw large crowds, leading the curator to lament the lack of local interest in the arts:
Curator: “I don’t understand Quetzaltecos [people from Xela], do you?”
Me: “Sometimes, but not always. Where are you from?”
Thus, he often organizes exhibitions of Guatemalan artists in the United States and Europe because, as he noted, “in Guatemala they only give you applause” while the rest of the world gives the donations that support the exhibitions.
In all, it is worth a visit if you enjoy art museums; the MDCDADCDLCDO (as we’ll call it for short) is open Monday to Saturday from 9am-1pm and 3pm-7pm. They also offer painting classes and are accepting donations of wood and wire for use in expanding the gallery (to get those prize winning paintings off the floor and onto the wall).