If you need to escape the traffic, noise, and grime of big city Buenos Aires, the Museo Nacional de Art Decorativo is the perfect reprieve. I visited on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and for a mere 20 pesos (about $1.50) I spent a couple hours in the most tranquil, grand, and beautiful little palace, the house of the Errázuriz-Alvear family. Now, it houses a great collection of antique furniture, paintings, and sculptures, maintained in the style and design of the original house.
My favorite room was the Madame’s Salon – a rose tinted parlor with ornate tapestries, silk-covered chairs, heavy drapes, and an ancient grand piano. This was wife Josefina’s room – educated in France, England, and Switzerland, she was very interested in art and antiques and as such was responsible for a majority of the pieces in the house. Here, five o’clock tea meetings, painting, and bridge meetings with friends took place.
Next was the Grand Salon, an expansive room of largely empty space, allowing one to admire the patterned wood floor. A fireplace as tall as a basketball player is featured on one wall, and other walls are covered with tapestries, oil paintings, and armor.
Behind the Grand Salon is the gentleman’s smoking room – a small salon of muted ivory marble and hushed acoustics.
As you progress through the dining room and up the stairs, the beauty and quality of the architecture is evident.
An outlier in the palace is the room of son Mato on the first floor. Originally planned to be in the style of Louis XVI, this plan was thrown out the window and Catalan artist Jose Maria Sert was hired to decorate the room. The result is a mix of neobaroque walls and furniture & styling of Art Deco.
Other rooms upstairs are similarly intricate to the main floor, with the most beautiful bathroom – a huge marble tub and a massive dressing table complete with an original silver shaving set.
On the way out is a treat for geologists – a table topped with the most amazing red marble from Italy. 🙂 🙂 For or a cheap and visual treat of an afternoon, check out this great building in the heart of the city.