Welcome to the National Museum of Oriental Art, where Eastern cultures unfold their diversity and contradictions, intertwining and coexisting with the gaze of our visitors. Our activities and projects invite you to inhabit this space at your own pace, to engage in dialogue, learn, and unlearn.
The vision of the National Museum of Oriental Art is to build bridges between the cultural practices of our country and those of Asia, Africa, and Oceania. We seek integration between peoples and their artistic and cultural expressions to promote greater mutual understanding and contribute to sustainable development.
The National Museum of Oriental Art disseminates the cultures of Asia, Africa, and Oceania through exhibitions showcasing both pieces from its collection and works by contemporary artists. Additionally, it develops programs for diverse audiences, fosters research on its heritage, and establishes connections with communities at both national and international levels.
What comes to mind when we say "East"? This exhibition invites you to explore the cultural tapestry woven across the vast territory encapsulated by this concept.
Oriente Todo, the main exhibition curated by Anush Katchadjian and Lucia De Francesco, showcases diverse cultural productions and encourages us to let go of preconceived notions. It prompts us to think, experiment, and shape our understanding of the narratives that have influenced the Western perspective on the East.
The exhibition is divided into sections that delve into various aspects of how these imaginaries were formed: the notion of the peculiar; the sensitive and the sensual; intricate details, preciousness, and perspectives on time; and the connection with nature. It invites reflection on whether we are truly distant from these concepts or, if anything, they could be integrated into our daily lives given the multitude of cultures encapsulated under the umbrella of Oriental art.
As a result, we encourage you to start engaging in situations—novel to some, everyday to others—and appreciate what we share in common or embrace our differences from a standpoint of respect and coexistence.
Guided tours (spanish only) are available on Saturdays and Sundays at 5 p.m.
You can download a self-guided tour <<<HERE>>>.
Rarely do we know how museum pieces made their way there. We can attempt to trace their itineraries through the labels, boxes, and stamps they display.
Objects have embarked on long journeys. Many arrived at the port of Buenos Aires after extensive commercial voyages by ship, primarily departing from Shanghai, Yokohama, and the Coromandel coast, coming from China, Japan, or India. Others came with collectors who acquired them during trips to the East or while touring Europe, where pieces of various origins could be found: from the Persian Empire or Egypt, Tibet, and Southeast Asia.
Whether they came from distant ports to Buenos Aires antique dealers or passed through various hands before anchoring in our territory, these objects have traversed other times and geographies. As we observe them, we journey and travel with them.
José Antonio Torre Bertucci (1888-1970) was an Argentine musician, educator, and a passionate collector of Oriental art.
He assembled his extensive collection with Egyptian amulets dating back over 2000 years, Japanese prints, Chinese porcelain, Buddhist figurines, samurai swords, and armor.
In pursuit of his academic music education around 1909, Torre Bertucci traveled to Europe, where he expanded his interest in Oriental art by connecting with art galleries and antique dealers specializing in the subject.
Torre Bertucci donated thousands of pieces from his personal collection to the national heritage with the intention that they could be appreciated by future generations. Today, they constitute a significant portion of the MNAO's collection, featuring objects from Japan, China, the Persian Empire, Egypt, India, Thailand, Tibet, and Indonesia.
On this side of the world, it's often said that Eastern cultures stand out for their patience. Is the East meticulous and industrious? Is the East slow and contemplative?
Different cultures conceive the passage of time in various ways. Details emerge from viewing work time as a process rather than a means to an end: the focus is not on the outcome but on the journey. It is here that transformation occurs, giving rise to an appreciation for meticulousness.
Engaging with the details invites a careful appreciation of the objects in this section.
To pause is not to delay. The objects also suggest a time to be discovered: unrolling a scroll of calligraphy, observing a landscape, flipping through the pages of a watercolor album... How much time do we take to admire the pieces presented here? Actions, movements, and things have their own time. Transformations are gradual and silent.
In the vast territory encompassed by the notion of the East, diverse spiritual beliefs and practices coexist, sharing some common threads. One of these is the way spirituality permeates and engages in everyday life through various individual or group actions.
The practice of prayer or meditation can occur both at home and in the temple, whether in silence or accompanied by music and chants. It may involve the use of objects or the adoption of specific body postures.
The veneration of ancestors is a daily presence in household altars, where respect is paid to departed forebears.
Another shared aspect is the use of the lunar or lunisolar calendar, guiding agricultural activities while marking the times for rituals and festivities that ensure community gatherings and the renewal of collective faith.
From the Western perspective, the East has been envisioned as a territory surrounded by an aura of allure. Throughout the 19th century, an erotic imaginary was constructed, particularly in Romantic literature and painting. Recurring themes included the odalisque, silk, incense, and fragrant spices, as well as the sensuality of the fan, kimono, or turban, among others.
Drawing from the accounts of travelers who ventured to the East, the West assembled landscapes, aromas, fashions, and customs to portray these distant cultures. Here, hedonism and pleasures are exalted.
One might consider a form of oriental sensuality crafted through the interplay of revelation and concealment—what certain textures evoke to the touch or how the scents of the surroundings stimulate the sense of smell—rather than relying solely on physical parameters or expressions of the body.
It's commonly believed that the East is more connected to nature than the West. Where does this assertion come from?
Many Eastern cultures structure their calendar of rituals and festivities based on agricultural activities. Even today, lunar phases and the onset of autumn or spring mark times of celebrations and ceremonies linked to planting, harvesting, or auspicious bloomings.
In seeking harmony between humans and their environment, there's a conception of respect and reverence for the natural world. The emphasis on the vital and organic is reflected in the constant presence of botanical and animal elements in artistic productions.
This is evident in many objects in the Museum: pieces that take on natural forms and compositions showcasing various trees, flowers, fruits, and animals, as well as misty landscapes, mountains, rivers, and rocks.