Stood Up at Lima’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Lima's Museum of Contemporary Art

Lima’s Museum of Contemporary Art (photo © Tony Dunnell)

After about 20 minutes perusing two collections in two small rooms at Lima’s Museum of Contemporary, I asked where I could find the rest of the collection. “That’s it,” I was told by a smiling member of staff, “that’s all of it.”

“And the permanent collection?” I asked. “Oh, it’s on rotation, it will be back in August,” she said.

Well that’s not very bloody permanent then, is it? I thought. I smiled and left the pretty modern building and its manicured grounds, and retraced my steps back from the edge of Barranco, where the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC Lima) is located, to Miraflores.

Hmph. What a disappointment. It was like having a date at an art gallery, only to be stood up by the art.

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Lima’s Long Awaited Bastion of Modern Art

It’s been a long, long wait for the culturally progressive capital of Peru to claim a modern art museum befitting of the city’s status. So long, in fact, that Lima’s entirely fictional museum of contemporary art, LiMAC, had to fill the gap, quietly and cleverly pointing out the absence of an actual museum.

Then, in 2013, Lima finally got its Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (, a bright, white and shiny building on Avenida Grau, just across from Miraflores on the northern fringe of Barranco.

It looks good. It really does. There’s a well-kept lawn sloping gently up to the glass-fronted white walls of the building, and a spattering of trees to break the straight lines of modernity.

It looks good. It really does. But it seems like someone, somewhere, forgot to remind the museum’s curators to fill their art museum with art.

So it was, therefore, that on June 7, 2016, at approximately 10 a.m., I entered Lima’s Museum of Contemporary Art. I walked around one colorful room filled with playfully political cartoons drawn by the witty Argentine cartoonist Liniers. It was fun. I then strolled across to a second room five yards away, which contained an installation called Separación by the artists Roxana Artacho and Héctor Mata. This featured, in the center of the room, a sizable wall of clay bricks with a gap in it. And a couple of videos and some noise. Five minutes.

That’s when I went outside to inquire as to the location of the permanent exhibition, which I had been led to believe (by the museum’s website) contained the likes of Fernando de Szyszlo, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró, or at least artists of equal talent and acclaim.

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That’s when it all went tits up, so to speak. No permanent exhibition. Nothing more than the two rooms, one containing funny Argentine cartoons and another a wall with a gap in it.

High hopes: dashed. Which is a real shame, as Lima deserves – and needs – a world class contemporary art museum.

If it had cost more than S/.6 to get in, I would have been more critical. As it is, I can only say that Lima’s Museo de Arte Contemporáneo is currently not worth visiting (I hope to change my opinion in the future) , unless there’s a temporary exhibition that particularly interests you.

Or until someone retrieves the permanent collection…

Paintings by Argentine cartoonist Ricardo Liniers Siri

Paintings by Argentine cartoonist Ricardo Liniers Siri at MAC Lima (photo © Tony Dunnell)

Separación by Roxana Artacho and Héctor Mata

Separación by Roxana Artacho and Héctor Mata (photo © Tony Dunnell)


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