What do they look like, the faces of Ecuador? It is a question that Oswaldo Guayasamin, one of South America’s most important artists, has tried to answer. He was not only a masterful artist, but also a collector and spent over 30 years transforming his former home in Quito into what is today known as the Guayasamin Museum. The art museum is a combination of Guayasamin’s private archaeological collection and his own works that he donated to the city of Quito shortly before his death.
It displays over 4,500 pre-Colombian artifacts, including ceramic bowls, fertility figurines and burial masks. You can find puzzling clay statues, 1,500-year-old depictions of shamans with mask-like features and braided hair, but also the facial features of humans across the Americas. He captured the people with boldness and they can now be admired in paintings, woodcuts and sculptures. The artist also liked to create more private portraits and often painted his friends and family. In fact, a whole room inside the museum is dedicated to his and all mothers. Close to the museum there is also La Capilla del Hombre, called Man’s Chapel. It is constructed similarly to an Incan temple and pays tribute to the human being and invites for quiet reflection and meditation. Inside, visitors can find murals and sculptures as well as messages about human rights, peace and solidarity.
The Guayasamin Museum can be found about 8 kilometers north of the historical center of Quito in the Bellavista neighborhood. The closest bus station is Bellavista, from where it’s still a bit of a walk to the museum. Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm.