museos cuenca

Exploring Cuenca’s History; The Route Of The Museums

Visiting a museum is much more than walking around an informative space about culture and history. It is about getting closer in a vivid way to one of the most important human expressions: admiring art in a way that allows us to see its real message; understanding crafts in its true human and cultural dimension; seeing history in such a way that we can revive it and learn from it. This route of the musems offers the possibility to enjoy the above mentioned while discovering the scenic beauty of one of the most attractive walks in Cuenca: the Tomebamba River which  works its way through the center of the city. Read on to learn  a little bit more about Cuencas patrimony on this dynamic and fun route through the city!


The Municipal Museum of Modern Art operates in the former House of Temperance which was built at the end of the XIX century by the order of Bishop Miguel Leon. The house was used as a shelter for rehabilitation and to cure people with alcohol realted problems. A massive escape of inmates in 1896 closed this space temporarily. Later, from 1924 to 1939 it was the home of the male municipal prison. During this time the house was seriously damaged which became a reason to transfer its administration to the Council of Social Assistance, changing its use to charity work and becoming an elderly home. Later it was changed to a solidarity institution named “Drop of Milk”, which helped low income mothers. By the end of the 70’s the idea of demolishing the building got stronger until researcher Hernan Crespo and painter Luis Crespo Ordoñez got involved in the idea of remodeling this building to transform it into a museum. In 1978 the Municipality of Cuenca started a restoring project respecting the original characteristics and architectural elements of the building.

The Municipal Museum of Modern Art opened its doors on August 1st 1981. Today, it is the headquarters of the International Biennial of Cuenca and an important point for the spreading of modern and contemporary art in Ecuador and the world. The public can enjoy here temporal contemporary art exhibits and permanent exhibits of modern art from the patrimonial collection of the Museum. The Museum has an auditorium for conferences, lectures, seminars, concerts and other types of events, plus a library specialized in art and an information office. Art workshops for children are also organized in this space.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 30 min.

Free admission

Address: Mariscal Sucre and Coronel Talbot Telephone: 4134900 ext. 1960 Schedule: Monday to Friday from 09h00 to 17h00; Saturdays and Sundays from 09h00 to 13h00[/color-box]


“La Condamine” House-Museum operates in a picturesque building of colonial style of more than 160 years of age. This was the home of four generations of the Orellana family, its last owner Graciela Vintimilla Orellana, together with her husband, Dutch gentleman Johannes Van Ruitenbeek, created a space named “Laura’s house-museum”,  which was used as an antique and crafts shop to promote traditions and customs in Cuenca for several years. In 2013, this house was purchased by spouses Manuel Vallejo Chavez and Pauleti Navarrete Farfan, who have maintained the original concept of Graciela Vintimilla, continuing business with the new name of “La Condamine” house-museum. In this welcoming place, visitors can appreciate the characteristic style of the colonial architecture of Cuenca. Spaces are located around a central and back patio where a traditional wood oven is preserved. Antiques and crafts are displayed for sale in such a way that they look more like decorations of a traditional home with special charm. Today, “La Condamine” House-Museum offers more attractions, for example an original fashion shop named “Mogazza” by designer Gabriela Sanchez Vallejo and a gallery-coffee shop where drawing and painting workshops are offered by plastic artist Fanny Gonzalez.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 20 min

$0,50 per person

Address: 12-112 La Condamine Telephone: 0969039552 Schedule: Monday to Saturday 10h00 to 13h00 and 14h00 to 18h00 [/color-box]


The Paredes Roldan House, an interesting historical building of more than 150 years of age, is where the Straw Hat Museum operates. This space is ideal to learn about the history and reality of one of the most fascinating activities in the country. This museum was born as an initiative of the Paredes Roldan family, who has been in the straw hat business in Cuenca since the mid part of the XX century. The idea of incorporating this space as a touristic offering of the city became a reality in 2007 creating a space where the main objective is to teach in a didactic and experiential way, the reality of the straw hat in Ecuador. In the first room of the Museum, visitors find an entertaining exhibit of three dimensional pictures where it is possible to take photos with interesting backdrops. The second room shows the tools used to elaborate tailor made hats and the following room replicates a traditional repair shop. Next is a space nicely decorated where visitors can see the first steps in making a hat: the harvest and processing of the Carludovica.

Vistors can then appreacite the Palmata fiber and the weaving process. After visiting the first rooms, it is possible to visit the factory where the third step takes place: the construction of the hat itself made from the weaving which is made by hand. It is possible to observe the work done by the modeling machines, the steam presses and the manufacture of bands and Moroccan leathers. Here, there is an exhibit area where the final product can be observed, presenting a great variety of styles and designs. The Museum tour is completed with a cafeteria and a viewpoint that has an amazing view of the Tomebamba River and the south part of the city. There is also a gallery with sporadic art exhibits.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 45 min.

Free admission

Address: Calle larga and Padre Aguiire Telephone: 2831569 Schedule: Monday to Friday 08h30 to 18h30; Saturday 09h30 to 17h00; Sunday 09h30 to 13h30[/color-box]


The University Archeological Museum is part of the Cultural Unit of the University of Cuenca. It was created in 1999 during the administration of Dr. Gustavo Vega Delgado with the purpose of underlining the integral process of restauration by recovering the adobe and bahareque walls, ceilings, patios, columns and other elements which give the building a neoclassic style. The Museum offers the possibility of an experiential visit along the history of our country through several rooms prepared in chronological order with archeological objects of five periods: Pre-ceramic, Formative, General Development, Integration and Incan. Different cultures such as Tacalshapa, Cerro Narrio, Cashaloma, Challuabamba,Panzaleos, Puruhaes, Bahia, La Manteña, La Tolita, etc, are represented here.

The Museum has a collection of about 4,500 pieces of metal, stone and ceramics, many of which rotate in exhibition every three or four months according to the requirements of the shows. The Museum also has a publication storage room, a room for rehearsals for the dance groups of the Culture Unit of the University of Cuenca and spaces for cultural events and the executions of research works at a higher level.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 45 min.

Free admission

Address: 5-199 12 de Abril Avenue and Solano Avenue Telephone: 4051000 – ext 1225 / 4051061 Schedule: Monday to Friday 09h00 to 13h00 and 15h00 to 18h00[/color-box]


This museum was created and maintained by the Azyat Chapter of the History Society of Medicine,  through its main promoter Dr. Guillermo Aguilar Maldonado. Its rooms are located in the remodeled building of the antique cloister of the Sisters of Charity, who arrived in Cuenca from France in the XIX century, starting volunteer work for the San Vicente de Paul Hospital located right beside the cloister. The Museum of the History Society of Medicine has more than 1,200 pieces donated by public health institutions and families of deceased physicians. The exhibits are organized in fourteen rooms, each representing a branch of medicine, such as Odontology, Traumatology, Heart Surgery, Laboratory, etc. Here, visitors can appreciate equipment, instruments and materials of pre-Hispanic, Colonial and Republican Medicine periods in our region.

There is also a replica of an antique drugstore and a library with books exclusively related to Medicine. The architecture of the building that the History Society of Medicine Museum is located in is also an attraction of great value. The church which operates as an auditorium was designed by German Redemptorist Brother Juan Bautista Stiehle by the end of the XIX century, built with funds from the Social Assistance collected from donations.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 45 min.

Free admission

Address: Av. 12 de Abril 7-55 Telephone: 2835859 Schedule: Monday to Friday 08h30 to 13h30 and 14h00 to 17h00[/color-box]


This House-Museum operates in the house of the well-known poet from Cuenca, Remigio Crespo Toral (1860-1939) who was also a politician, professor, university rector, and the main promoter of culture in Cuenca, especially during the first decades of the XX century. Its rooms present the elegant home where Remigio Crespo Toral and his family lived. Here, interesting goods are shown like the suits of Elia Liut, pilot of the first plane to land in Cuenca or the gravestone of Carlos Maria de la Condamine, member of the First Geodesic French Mission who ordered the engraving of the results of the Mission and points of reference of the measuring in this marble plaque. The patrimony of the Remigio Crespo Toral House-Museum is formed by an archeological collection of about 18,000 pieces of great aesthetic quality from different regional cultures in the country.

The museum also has an art collection made up of 500 paintings and 200 sculptures from the XVII, XVIII and XIX centuries. This includes 25 paintings by Honorato Vazquez, one of the best landscape painters in the country and works by Joaquin Pinto, Abraham Sarmiento, Antonio Salas, Luis Cadena, Antonio Salguero, Rafael Salas, Victor Mideros, Emilio Lozano, among other important representatives of Ecuadorian art. The Municipal History Archives has about 3,000 documents. A stamp collection of about 2,800 pieces. A textile collection formed by 150 historic pieces.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 45 min

Free admission

Address: 7-27 Calle Larga and Presidente Borrero Telephone: 4134900 ext. 1970 [/color-box]


Las Conceptas is a unique space where visitors can travel to a place far away modernity and  the daily bustle of life.  Beside the fascinating architecture of vernacular style, it is possible to discover the interesting history of the nuns of the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception, founded in Cuenca in 1599. The Museum has operated since 1986 in the space of the cloister. Its rooms are located along antique wooden halls around two charming interior gardens. The exhibits are divided in the following topics: History of the Monastery and Daily Life; Painting and Sculpture; Custom Miniatures; Furniture; Porcelain and Crystal. As an interesting fact, the construction of this Monastery, which was finished at the beginning of XIX century, includes a cemetery with graves of high architectural richness based on  simplicity. Currently, in this place operates the Auditory of the Museum where intense and important cultural activities take place.

The funds of the Museum are part of the dowries of the Conceptas nuns donated along four centuries to the monastery. There are 64 pictures on religious topics and about 250 sculptures of religious and culture custom topics in the 18 rooms of the permanent exhibits of the Museum. This space also holds conferences, seminars, book presentations, temporal exhibits and different types of events.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 45 min.

School students: $ 1.50 USD; university and senior citizens: $ 2.50 USD; national and foreign visitors: $3.50 USD

Address: 6-33 Hermano Miguel and Juan Jaramillo Schedule: Monday to Friday 09h00 to 18h30; Saturday 10h00 to 13h00. Telephone: 2830625[/color-box]


This private Museum is part of the Gaspar Sangurima Cultural Center. Its owner and director, Mr. Fernando Garcia Duran conceived this idea more than a decade ago with the objective of rescuing, researching and spreading cultural and artistic expressions of the city and the country, especially those related to the southern region of Ecuador and the Cañari culture. To reach this purpose he gradually purchased a series of objects of different nature: Regional archeology, Colonial and Republican Art, custom paintings and sculptures and ethnographic objects, amount others. The Cañari Identity Museum presents the following sections:

1. Archeology Room: Contains about 150 Cañari pieces of pre-Colombian origin, placed in chronological order from the Narrio period until the arrival of the Incas. It has about 500 archeological pieces of the Cañari, Incan and Puruha cultures.

2. Art Rooms: Contain Colonial paintings and sculptures from the XVIII and XIX centuries and the Republican Period, ethnographic pieces and custom representations mostly from the city of Cuenca.

The Museum through the “Gaspar Sangurima” Cultural Center offers technical support on Colonial and Republican Ecuadorian sculpture and painting and information on Cañari and Incan archeology. The museum operates on the second floor of “El Monasterio” Gallery with an exhibit and sale area of contemporary art, crafts and antiques

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 30 min.

Adults $ 2.00USD; FREE for public school students, disable people and senior citizens

Address: 6-26 Presidente Cordova and Hermano Miguel Telephone: 2825384 / 2825212 Schedule: Monday to Friday 9h00 to 18h30; Saturday 9h00 to 13h30[/color-box]


The Inter American Center of Popular Arts, CIDAP, is a public organism oriented to promote and value crafts and cultural expressions of Ecuador and America. It has a reserve of about 8,020 objects collected during 41 years from different parts of Ecuador and 23 countries of America, Spain and Madagascar. The Museum opened its doors in 1983, and through its national and international exhibits, tries to reflect and spread the material and non-material legacy of countless cultural and craft groups for the appreciation of local, national and international visitors.

The Museum offers a service of personalized guides for tourists, groups of students, researches and visitors in general. It also has a Documentation Center formed by more than 67,000 documents related mainly to Crafts, Patrimony, Anthropology, Popular Art and Culture which can be reviewed through a Virtual Library and at the Institutional Archive. The Achive, Museum, and the Document Center offer the public invaluable sources of research, knowledge and awareness towards craft expressions and popular American arts.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 30 min

Free admission

Address: 3-23 Hermano Miguel and Paseo Tres de Noviembre Telephone: 284 0919 / 282 9451 / 285 0516 Schedule: Monday to Friday 9h00 to 17h00; Saturday 9h00 to 16h00.[/color-box]


The Museum of Indigenous Cultures, which specializes in Ecuadorian Archeology, was founded by the Cordero Lopez family and is part of the Cordero Cultural Center. Since its opening in 1992, it serves the city with the objective of working towards education, assessment, maintenance and protection of Ecuadorian Cultural Patrimony. It promotes the cultural development of the southern region of the country, research, and cultural activities. The museum employs specialists in museums and patrimony that allow visitors to explore the customs and beliefs of our ancestors. The Museum operates in a house built in the XVIII century in the Patrimonial Center of Cuenca. It offers different cultural acts, courses, conferences, library services and a documentary fund that preserves data, images and unique documents related to the history of Cuenca and Ecuador, and books in the fields of art, history, geography and literature.

The permanent exhibit of the Museum has been conceived as an encounter with fifteen fundamental moments of Ecuadorian archeology. Its didactic layout follows a geographic and thematic order of objects from different parts of Ecuador. Visitors can appreciate the amazing skills and knowledge of ancient people who worked with different materials such as stone, ceramics, shells, bones, metals and textiles which were made into beautiful ceremonial and decorative objects and sculptures.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 30 min.

Students $2,00 USD National and foreing visitors $4,00 USD

Address: 5-24 Calle Larga between Hermano Miguel and Mariano Cueva Telephone: 2841540 / 2839181 Schedule: Monday to Friday 9h00 to 18h00; Saturday 9h00 to 14h00; Sunday by appointment [/color-box]


This museum is located in the Todos Santos area and has archeological remains from different historical periods both from the Cañari and Incan cultures and stone mills built by the Spanish. This museum keeps pieces from the three cultures. The Museum is located at the north entrance of the archeological complex discovered by chance in 1972 when building a private home. After finding a series of Cañari foundations and other Incan remains, several ceramic pieces were also found. A technical committee designated by the  Azuay branch of the House of Culture was organized to assess the archeological site and later the creation of the Museum, which was named after a physician from Cuenca, Manuel Agustin Landivar (1921-1980). Manuel Agustin Landivar performed works of historical and archeological importance in this region. In the Museum, the rotating exhibits include different ethnographic, paleontological and patrimonial ceramics.  The Musuem is also preparing a permanent presentation of ancient knowledge. The institution in charge of its administration is Azuay Branch of the House of Ecuadorian Culture.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 30 min.

Free admission

Address: Calle Larga and Manuel Vega Telephones: 2821177 / 0995520186 Schedule: Tuesday to Friday 10h00 to 18h30 and Saturday 10h00 to 14h00[/color-box]


The museum, theater, and ancestral park of Pumapungo, which belong to the Ministry of Culture and Patrimony of Ecuador, are part of the Pumapungo complex formed by an open space with all kinds of initiatives, projects and cultural activities framed in the National Plan of Good Living and the national policy for museums. The Museum keeps and protects the reserve and national room of ethnography where the intercultural richness of Ecuador can be appreciated. The archeological “Tomebamba” room or Site Museum shows the historical development of Azuay and Ecuador, through the Cañari, Incan and Colonial cultures. Here, the important historical Incan heritage can be observed through the ruins of an administrative, military, and religious complex, which is the second in importance within the Incan empire after the city of Cuzco.

In addition, the Museum has five temporal exhibit rooms and one room for emerging local, national, and international artists. In the same way, the Pumapungo Museum offers a room for conservation and restoring; reserves of archeology and modern and contemporary art; a historic archive and a library, all of them at the disposition of students, researchers, curators and visitors in general. On the other side, at the Pumapungo Ancestral Park beside the Incan ruins, visitors can appreciate the luxuriant vegetation of the ethno-botanic park with more than 230 species of native plants and trees from the Andes. It is also possible to visit the rescue center for birds, where in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, the Committee of Environment Management, and the Amaru Zoo,  work is done to combat the illegal traffic of birds.

[color-box color=”gray”]Estimated time of the visit: 90 min.

Free admission

Address: Calle Larga and Huayna Capac Telephone: 2831521 Schedule: Tuesday to Friday 8h00 to 17h30; Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 10h00 to 16h00 [/color-box]

Leave a Reply

You may also like

Related Posts

Stay updated & Win

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

And go into the draw to win a YapaTree Card. New winner every month. 

Subscribe Form Sidebar