Thursday, April 29, 2010

Casa Alabada

On my first day back in Quito, I could not wait to return to the Centro Historico. I dragged Eric away from his computer and did not have an agenda, but found myself walking up the hill to the Plaza San Fransisco and to the Casa Alabado. It was finally open (I have tried to enter several times now), although it still appeared to be unprepared for many visitors. My impression is that they are still working out glitches and getting organized. The building is beautiful, an old renovated colonial home built in 1671 (an 'alabado' or prayer is inscribed on the lintel of the front door), with a stunning collection of pre-columbian figures, each one exquisite examples of Valdivian, Machalilla, Chorrera, Bahia, Jama-Coaque, La Tolita, Guangala, Panzaleo, Napo, ManteƱa-Guancavilca sculpture and ceramics. It is remarkable that works from each culture are unique and clearly differentiated from those of another culture, and that I am usually able to identify the origin of each work of art ( I have spent many hours in museums and I teach a class each year in January about the art and history of pre-columbian Ecuadorians).

This is a private collection. I wonder how these pieces were found and put together and where they were kept before the museum was conceived. I have visited every collection of pre-columbian art in the city, and this one is remarkable. Eric and I did not have much time to linger (we had stopped for coffee and for lunch along the way and had to be back by 3:45 to meet Maya'a bus), so we whizzed through, appreciating the technological aids (touch screen computers with information in several rooms with special sound units designed to project just in the area around the touch screen pad) and amazed by the art. I am determined to return tomorrow for another visit; I plan to take my time and use the audioguide and look more carefully and closely at the pieces.

It was a wonderful reintroduction to Ecuador.