Travelers on the hunt for experiences in one-of-a-kind cultural spaces will find plenty to do in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Museums, bookstores, and theaters await you. Some of my favorites are listed below. Many of them are free, like the taping of a tango show at the Centro Cultural Kirchner. All of them are worth a visit.
Try to choose one art museum in Buenos Aires? That's impossible. The range of art is too good. I picked three for you:
MALBA: Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires: This museum introduced me to many Argentine artists. I saw black-and-white photos of Juan Domingo Perón from 1972 to '74 by Sara Facio; a remix of the museum's permanent collection called Verboamérica; and Irene Kopelman's first solo show that interprets geological formations in rugged regions of Argentina into delicate drawings, sculptures, and collages. The museum café Ninina is ideal for a break and the small gift shop has an array of jewelry, books, and children's toys. MALBA admission is half-price on Wednesdays ($60 pesos or $3 USD).
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes: This museum is home to the largest public collection of art in Latin America, including works that date to the 19th century by Argentine and European artists. The museum is free and offers tours in English. At this museum, I learned about the French artist Auguste Rodin's connection to Buenos Aires. In fact, the Rodin room inside the museum pays homage to his work and has his infamous sculpture "The Kiss."
National Museum of Decorative Arts: This museum was once the residence of Josefina de Alvear and Matías Errázuriz Ortúza. Today, the neoclassical mansion displays the couple's collection of more than 6,000 objects. There are paintings, tapestries, weapons, miniatures, and more. You'll find a Rodin sculpture here, too. The museum is free at certain times. Tours are offered in English. The schedule and pricing may change, so check the museum's website ahead of your visit.
Bookstore: El Ateneo Grand Splendid
There are bookstores galore in Buenos Aires, from small ones packed with books in English (Walrus Books), to chains such as Yenny found in malls, to the palace of them all: El Ateneo Grand Splendid, known as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. That's because it's inside a former theater. Wander the stacks along the curved tiers. Browse a book in one of the balcony boxes. Have a drink on the stage that is now a café.
Opera House: Teatro Colón
You need not be an opera lover to appreciate the architecture and history of Teatro Colón. The theater has an eclectic mix of styles and materials, thanks to the varied tastes of three different architects who worked on the project. There are staircases carved of Italian marble and stained glass imported from France. The Gold Hall (pictured) looks like something straight out of the Palace of Versailles. The theater is more than just gorgeous; it has some of the best acoustics in the world. Daily English tours are offered for around $300 pesos ($13 USD).
Performance Space: Centro Cultural Kirchner
Want to see free tango, art, and concerts? Centro Cultural Kirchner (CCK) has them all. The owner of the hotel where I stayed tipped me off to this gem. Though a show may be listed as sold-out, there's always a chance you can get a ticket anyway. Those who reserved tickets must arrive by 6 p.m. on the show date to pick them up. If not, those tickets are released to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. That's how I got a ticket to the taping of "La Hora del Tango."
Looking to enjoy fresh air after being indoors touring these spaces? Read my blog story: "In Buenos Aires, a Garden Tour Is a Welcome Distraction."