A guest post by Maureen Santucci
When it comes to seeing the best art that Cusco has to offer, it’s not just a museum you want to visit. Instead, it’s best to visit one of the two most prominent local art galleries. Both galleries welcome casual visitors; you can browse and enjoy the creations on display, while staff are happy to answer questions without pressuring you to buy.
Fractal Dragon in Cusco
Resident artist and director, Maria Elena Mendoza Altamirano, created Fractal Dragon in order to showcase promising new artists, particularly those from Cusco. Before this opportunity, artists frequently had to travel to Lima for the opportunity to show their work. Or, they were forced to create the same type of art as everyone else — with the ubiquitous pictures of llamas and Machu Picchu — in order to make any kind of a living.
Fractal Dragon features an artist each month, in addition to other works that are on display more continuously. The gallery is housed in a colonial mansion, with works displayed on two floors. There is also a space upstairs called the Casa de la Cultura Inca Tupac Yupanqui that is used to showcase other types of artistic expressions such as music and theatre. Both can be found at Q’hapchikijllu 175 and 159 (previously Calle Arequipa).
The Apacheta Gallery
The Apacheta art gallery is located at San Juan de Dios 250, in the Casa Qoriq’ente, another colonial mansion. Here you can find many different types of art including paintings, sculptures, weavings and more. An important aspect of the work of this gallery is the preservation of the ancient culture and skills of Peru. Many of the art pieces are replicas of pre-Hispanic creations.
Like Fractal Dragon, the gallery was started by two Peruvian artists: in this case, Gabriela and Roxana Cuba, both of whom have taken part in solo and group showings around the world. Their experience and knowledge of cultural promotion has been vital in creating a space that feels like an intimate museum — a space where you can get much closer to the displays and even take something home with you.
Museum of Contemporary Art in Cusco
To round out your art experience, you can finish by touring the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo) in the Plaza Regocijo. Entrance to the museum is included on the Boleto Turistico or Tourist Ticket that most visitors purchase to see some of the archaeological sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. The museum is small but offers constantly rotating displays and information on local artisans.
It’s possible and easy to visit all of these galleries independently, but if you’re short on time or prefer to take a pre-arranged tour, consider booking a customized art and culture tour with a special interest Peru travel agency such as Aracari.