Evita Peron Museum
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The attraction: The Evita Peron Museum, known in Spanish as simply the Museo Evita (the Evita Museum), tells the life story of the small town girl, Eva Duarte, who would go on to become an iconic legend and the most important woman in Argentine history. The museum is housed in a mansion that was constructed in the first decade of the last century. The building features both Plateresque and Italian Renaissance styles. Before it became a museum, it served as the Hogar de Transito (Temporary Home) #2, a shelter for women and children without any resources that was started by Eva Peron’s own charity in 1948. (Eva was a champion crusader for the rights of the downtrodden Argentine people). The placement of a home to house poor mothers and their children in such an exclusive neighborhood was done deliberately to further incense the neighborhood’s wealthy residents. (During Evita’s reigning years, she was loathed by Argentina’s upper classes, who regarded her as nothing more than a social climber.) The museum is located in the city’s Palermo neighborhood, offering convenient access to other area attractions.
Pros to visiting: If you’ve always had a minor obsession with Evita and know all the words to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita, then a visit to the Museo Evita is a must on a trip to Buenos Aires. Even if you’re indifferent to Evita and know nothing about her save for the fact that Madonna played her in a film, it’s still a worthwhile visit as there is nowhere one can go in Buenos Aires without being “mildly” assaulted by Evita’s lingering memory. The museum is arranged chronologically, the top floors beginning with her childhood and her arrival in Buenos Aires while just a teenager, the ground level being her final years before she succumbed to ovarian cancer at the young age of 33. Museum artifacts include her clothes (she was quite the fashionista), countless photos, her voting card (Evita was the one to get Argentine women the right to vote in 1947), and countless other trinkets given to her by her adoring masses.
Cons to visiting: Display information is only in Spanish. Although there were pamphlets in other languages one could pick up in each of the rooms, they didn’t follow the Spanish placards exactly and didn’t feature information on each of the artifacts. I ended up being the de facto translator for my two friends while we were there.
Conclusion: Although some people may regard the idea of a museum devoted to just one person slightly boring, one can’t understand the depths of Evita’s legacy on the Argentine people and their psyche. Although she died more than half a century ago, her name is known around the world, not just in Argentina or even South America. It’s a well put together museum honoring a woman who regardless of the countless controversies that surrounded her, truly was a crusader for los descamisados (the shirtless ones), a role not filled by many people at that time.