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Latin America Travel & Tour Information

01 enero 2014

National Gallery in Tegucigulpa, Honduras

National Gallery in Tegucigulpa, Honduras

Having a few hours to kill in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, it is easy to get around some of the important sites near the Parque Central, including the unpretentious National Gallery of Art just off the Parque de la Merced. It was originally built in 1654 to house the Convent of the Merced and after the secularization of the convents in 1829, became home to the 'Society of the Enterprising Genius and of Good Taste'. Unfortunately this fabulous name was changed to the 'Honduran Literary Academy', less of a mouthful but less inspirational perhaps? Maybe not, because in 1847 it became the University of Tegucigalpa and finally, in 1994, The National Gallery of Art (NGA).

The building itself is worth the visit as a classic example of traditional colonial architecture, complete with a manicured garden and a well as its centerpiece, surrounded by a two story edifice with balustrade walkways and balconies.     

 I had the place pretty much to myself apart form a couple of Mormons and a mosquito, but despite these annoying presences, I had plenty of time and space to appreciate the exhibits. Starting in prehistory with cave paintings and a rock carving of a metamorphosing  butterfly from La Mosquitia region, I quickly moved on to some random pieces of rock taken from the Mayan ruins of Copán, in the far west of Honduras. Following that is a room featuring ceramics found mostly in the Ulúa River Basin near San Pedro Sula - pots, vases, and ocarinas (whistles) - some of them decorated in enough detail to challenge the designs of Greek amphorae.     

Skipping quickly through the religious art rooms featuring among others, the most important Honduran painter of the XVIII Century, José Miguel Gómez, I headed upstairs to the permanent contemporary art exhibition. Not being much of a Latin American art aficionado, I had never heard of any of these 'brilliant generation of graduates of the National School of Fine Arts', but there is a room dedicated to the works of one of the more important artists, Miguel Matute, including a colourful portrait of Doña Ivona St. Siegens, under whose direction the NGA was set up.     

It was certainly worth the visit and at 20 Lempiras entry fee!

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