It’s tempting to call this the “museum of irony”: Argentina ’s most self-consciously gaucho-oriented institution sits in one of the country’s most urbane and affluent neighborhoods, also home to many foreign embassies. Named for the author of the gauchesco epic poem Martín Fierro, it specializes in rural Argentiniana.
Even more ironically, land-owning oligarch Félix Bunge built the derivative French-Italianate residence with marble staircases and other extravagant features. Originally named for the Carlos Daws family, who donated its contents, it became the Museo de Motivos Populares Argentinos (Museum of Argentine Popular Motifs) José Hernández until the 1976–1983 dictatorship deleted the potentially inflammatory populares (which in context means “people’s”) from the official name. Thus, perhaps, it could depict gentry like the Martínez de Hoz family as part of a bucolic open-range lifestyle.
That said, the museum has many worthwhile items, ranging from magnificent silverwork and vicuña textiles created by contemporary Argentine artisans to pre-Columbian pottery, indigenous crafts, and even a typical pulpería (rural store). Translations of Hernández’s famous poem, some in Asian and Eastern European languages, occupy a prominent site.
The Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández (Avenida del Libertador 2373, tel. 011/4803-2384, www.museohernandez.org.ar , 1–7 p.m. Wed.–Fri., 10 a.m.–8 p.m. weekends and holidays) charges US$0.30 admission except Sunday, when it’s free. It’s normally closed in February.