Museo de Arte de Ponce
It’s closed until mid-2010 for expansion and renovation, but Museo de Arte de Ponce (2325 Ave. Las Americas, 787/848-0505 or 787/840-1510, map [at] museoarteponce [dot] org, www.museoarteponce.org, hours and admission TBA) is a major player among Puerto Rico’s cultural attractions. It contains an impressive collection of more than 3,000 pieces of European, North American, and Puerto Rican art from the 14th century to the present.
In addition to its renowned collection of Italian baroque and British Pre-Raphaelite work, Puerto Rican artists are also represented with works by painters José Campeche (1759–1809) and Franciso Oller (1822–1917), as well as photographer Jack Delano (1914–1997), a member of a distinguished group of photographers who worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Depression and documented the island’s people and places for more than 50 years.
The most celebrated piece in its collection is Flaming June, an 1895 classicist painting of a slumbering woman in a brilliant orange gown by Briton Lord Fredric Leighton. It may seem an unlikely symbol of Ponce’s cultural heritage, but once you witness the power of the large gilt-framed painting in the Museo de Arte de Ponce, you can begin to understand why the image has not only been plastered on coffee cups, T-shirts, and mouse pads in the museum store but has been appropriated by local contemporary artists who’ve taken the liberty of altering her image in various ways, including wrapping her in the Puerto Rican flag.
While the Museo de Arte de Ponce is closed, portions of its permanent collection are on view in rotating exhibitions at MAP@PLAZA (Plaza Las Americas, 525 Ave. F. D. Roosevelt, Hato Rey, San Juan, 787/200-7090, Wed.–Fri. 9 a.m.–1 p.m., $5 adults, $2.50 seniors, students, and children under 12). Flaming June is temporarily on exhibit in Europe until the renovations are complete.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition