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Friday, February 12, 2010

Don't Cry for Me - Museo Evita

I can't believe that it's been close to 14 years ago since I went with my friend Denise's family to see Evita in the theater. Her mom was the driving force behind us going and I had just moved to Illinois so any time I was invited anywhere I said yes. It was one of two times in my life that can remember where I: 1) Had no idea that the movie was based on a true story, and 2) Had to quickly cover up my ignorance while discussing the movie afterward. (The other time was when I saw A Beautiful Mind. I was so sure that Russell Crowe was a secret government decoder...) I loved the music from the show and until today that movie has been the complete source of my knowledge of Eva Peron/Evita. The most repeated part of the museum tour was that the musical has very little factual information about Evita, so I had lots to learn.

Jon and I are not really museum people, so guided tours are really the best thing for both of us. Unfortunately for him, the tours are usually during the day so he doesn't get to join in on the fun. Today I went with BAIN (the expat group I joined) to an English guided tour of Museo Evita (The Evita Museum), Lafinur 2988, Palermo, that was really great. The museum "contribution fee" is $14 pesos or $22 pesos with a guided tour. They charged us $25 pesos today, maybe because it was in English, maybe because it was with a large private group - either way to me it was worth the US$6.50. Located in a beautiful area of the city, the museum itself has a colorful history. It is an old Carabassa family mansion that the Eva Peron Foundation bought and restored in 1948 and then opened it as a shelter for women and children. After Juan Peron was overthrown in 1955, the shelter was seized by the government (as was everything created or owned by the Perons) and sat abandoned for close to 50 years. To mark the 50th anniversary of Evita's death on July 26, 2002, her grandniece reopened the house as a museum showcasing Eva's legacy, influence and (of course) her clothing.

There are strong feelings in Argentina regarding Juan and Eva Peron, strong love and strong hate. To avoid the controversy, I will not focus on their politics or methods, but rather on something that is not a source of controversy, her sense of fashion. This woman had to be the most well dressed person to ever live. The dresses they had on display were uniquely designed for her and came complete with shoes, hats, scarves, purses, etc. that were all stunning. My favorite examples:

The museum also has a nice Restaurant & Bar in the lower level that is a great post-museum stop. We stopped for lunch at 1pm and the place was 100% full by 1:30. The menu is small, but they had some nice options; chicken ceasar salad, grilled fish, chicken or beef with vegetables or homemade pasta to name a few. If you used their set price option you get a beverage (beer, wine, soda or water), entre and dessert or coffee for $33 to $36 pesos (US$8.50 - $9.50). A pretty good deal. The restaurant has an air conditioned indoor seating area and a large, pleasant patio. Their hours are 9am - 12am everyday and advertise breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and wine tastings. I would recommend a reservation if you are planning a trip, 4800 1599 or resto@museoevita.org.

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