The Gaucho Museum and the Museo de la Moneda –the Mint Museum- share an ornate “palace” on Montevideo’s central avenue. The extravagant French and Italian-style building built in 1896 is reason alone to visit.
Like many of Montevideo’s museums, it is free to the public.
The Gaucho Museum
The Gaucho Museum on the third floor hosts a stunning collection of horse gear, silver and gold spurs, broad gaucho belts, mate gourds (the ritual drink in this part of the world) and tobacco-smoking equipment. Many items are around 150 years old.
I was surprised to see the sword of political revolutionary Aparicio Saravia amongst the beautifully-crafted swords and daggers. For Uruguayans supporters of the National political party, this would be like stumbling upon Excalibur in the centre of Montevideo!
The Museum of Money
The Mint Museum hosts artefacts from the National Bank including a decorated safe, numerous counting machines and an enormous hand-written ledger which sent shivers down my spine.
It is a real shame that the museums don’t include any information in English. As most of the items exhibited are easy to identify and the actual building is so remarkable, it’s not too much of an issue, however it does feel like a missed opportunity to familiarise visitors with gaucho culture.
Museo del Gaucho, Palacio Heber Jackson, 18 de Julio 998, Montevideo
Tel: 2900 8764 is open Monday to Friday from 10am till 4pm.
Featured photo Vince Alongi