Friday, January 22, 2010

Museo de Las Conceptas

We had been wanting to visit this museum for awhile, and we were happy to find it open.  This is one of the most important museums in Cuenca.

It was better than we had imagined! 

The Museum is located in an old, old building, one of the oldest in Cuenca, built in the late 1500's.

The Order of the Pure Conception was founded in Spain in 1448 and the first convent of the Order was established in Quito in the mid 1500's.

In 1559, one of Cuenca's oldest families (Ordonez) gave this building  to the Church for Cuenca's first convent. It was once the family compound, the grandest house in the City. The family also 'gave' 3 daughters, and this block-size compound was the 'dowry'. 

The museum, located in the old infirmary of the convent (added in 1875), displays some of the old art that new nuns had brought with them to the convent as their 'dowries'. Some of the new nuns, in the early years, were as young as 12 years old.  It was touching to see their 'gifts'...  music boxes, toys, dolls, tiny tea sets...

Some of the families who 'gave' their daughters (usually the first-borns!) were quite wealthy, so the art that came with them is a good selection of colonial, religious art, by local artists of the time.... paintings, ceramics, sculptures. 

There are several rooms, each housing art by 'theme'...  saints, holidays, textiles, Virgin Mary, statues, toys, etc.

There is also furniture from the early era, as well as embroidery and textiles that the nuns had crafted. Photos show early life in the convent, too, which was/is self-contained and very simple. 

The museum is just a small part of the complex. The convent is still home to cloistered nuns.  The only time the nuns leave the convent is to clean the museum, after hours.  (The convent part is not open to the public.)

We walked the outside of the building, around the block.  There is a pretty church on the property that we could see through one of the street gates.  We think it's open to the public on Sundays.  The church dates back to the early 1700's.  Looked small, but lovely decorations.  Also, there are some small craft businesses located along the outside of the building. 

Admission is $2.50.  Located at Hermono Miguel 6-33.

No pictures are allowed of the exhibits.  But, we did get these pictures of the outside of the building and the inside courtyards with pretty gardens. 

Outside cooking area in one of the courtyards.

Back of the false front of the building.

Wonderful old door at the street.

1 comment:

  1. Great post about the museum. It is a hidden treasure of Cuenca.