All about the Santa Teresa Viceregal Art Museum
The museum is part of the Monastery of the Discalced Carmelites of San José, which is also known as the Monastery of Santa Teresa. Throughout its more years of history, the monastery treasured various colonial objects of great value, such as: sculptures, furniture, canvases, gold and silver jewelery, liturgical objects and more. All of them are exhibited in the 13 spaces that make up the museum. All this, in addition, is surrounded by a characteristic architecture of the colonial era. The visit to the site costs 20 Peruvian soles per person. It is one of the best museums in the city of Arequipa.
Where is it?
The museum is located just 900 meters from Arequipa's Main Square. His address is: Calle Melgar 303.
How to get?
The best way is to walk. Starting from the Main Square, take Mercaderes street. LThen you must turn into any of the streets that lead to the museum: Rivero street, Peral street or Colón street. Going on foot will take about 15 minutes.
The Santa Teresa viceregal art museum is one of the most famous in the city of Arequipa. Another of the most visited is the Andean Sanctuaries museum, which exhibits the famous Juanita mummy (La dama de Ampato). This mummy belongs to a 13 or 14 year old girl sacrificed in the snowy Ampato during Inca times. The museum is also just a few steps from the Main Square.
The history of the Santa Teresa Viceregal Art Museum begins with the construction of the monastery and its temple in 1710. CLike many colonial structures in the city, its walls and facades use ashlar, a volcanic stone of volcanic origin. Since its inception, the nuns who have lived there for more than 3 centuries have collected various relics of great value. In 2005, the convent opened a part of its cloisters to the public, exhibiting these objects in a total of 13 spaces - rooms.
Viceregal art interpretation room – Environment where the monastery gate is located. It has 4 showcases that expose how the paintings were made on murals made of ashlar as well as the canvases, sculptures, furniture and other objects of great value within the enclosure.
Cloister of the offices – Convent space where the nuns carried out their duties as porter, wardrobe, infirmary and even ringing bells. It was built after 1750. It has a beautiful garden. In the middle stands a basin carved in alabaster.
Room of the order of Carmen – In this room there are paintings and objects linked to the Carmelite Order. The paintings of Santa Teresa de Jesús, San Juan de la Cruz as well as a beautiful reliquary of saints of the order stand out. Before, the space functioned as the office of the Mother Prioress.
Room of the Nativity and the Holy Family – This room functioned as a wardrobe (place where the nuns' habits are made) of the convent. Among the pieces that are here, the so-called 'Trunk of the Nativity' stands out, whose valuable pieces were brought from Ecuador.
Patio of the chandlery – Space where the factory of candles and tapers in the convent operated. Currently, the sanitary services of the place work there. There is a lattice space where the litters used during the processions are kept. Today, the monastery gate works there.
Chapter House – Room where the directing nuns met to make decisions about the convent. A mural painting with Rococo characteristics stands out. Most of his canvases refer to old engravings from Europe (such as the Golden Calf or The Life of King David).
Low Choir – The low choir continues to be used for daily Masses. There, for many centuries, the nuns fill the spaces with their prayers such as The Angelus, or The Sixth Hour. The cloister is beautifully decorated with canvases and sculptures.
Hall of the Passion of Christ – In this space you can see a collection of small canvases that represent the 'Passion of Christ'. Through a showcase there is a carving of Jesus Christ after the flagellation. All these relics stand out for their baroque style.
Saints' room of the church – This room is also known as' The room of the bells' because there the three bells are rung that warn the nuns about the prayer of 'The Angelus'. In addition, there are sculpture of the founders of different religious orders such as: Santo Domingo de Guzmán, San Francisco de Asís, San Ignacio de Loyola and more.
Virgin Mary Room – This room is also known as the 'High Choir' because here the nuns perform songs and prayers at festive masses. Likewise, there are different sculptures and carvings that represent the Virgin Mary. It is worth highlighting a life-size sculpture (by an anonymous author) that represents the Virgin in transition from ascending to heaven.
Room of daily life I – This room served as 'Locutorio', or place of visits. Today, there it is possible to observe various objects that were used in the daily life of the nuns. There are objects such as paintings, kitchen utensils, hosts and others that give an idea of the lifestyle within the monastery.
Room of daily life II – In this room there are objects that were administered to the nuns by their families for their maintenance in the cloister. A collection of porcelain pieces stands out (coming from China, Spain, England). In its beginnings, the tenants of the convent came from wealthy families in the city of Arequipa.
Room of the angels and archangels – This room worked as the convent's infirmary. Today, it houses a beautiful collection of paintings and sculptures showing angels and archangels made by Peruvian artists.
Yellow Corridor – As the name suggests, this place is a service alley whose facade is painted yellow. The service personnel who supported the nuns lived there until the beginning of the 20th century. Today, it is a quiet passage adorned with flowerpots, flowers, and windows.
Temporary exhibition hall - This room served as a depository for the goal. To better preserve food, the environment is kept at a cooler temperature than the rest of the convent. Currently, temporary exhibitions of local and foreign artists are held there.
The entrance to the museum has a cost of 20 Peruvian soles (6 US dollars approximately).
Hours of operation
Visiting hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon.
The Santa Teresa viceregal art museum also has a space called 'La dulcería', where different cakes and desserts prepared daily by the nuns of the cloister are sold. Rose soaps, apple cider vinegar, honey, souvenirs and even scapulars are also offered.
The museum offers some offers for special dates. For example, on the 16th of each month, in homage to the Virgin of Carmen (Patroness of the order of the Discalced Carmelites) the income is '2 x 1', that is, for the price of one person, two enter.
During your visit to the Santa Teresa viceregal art museum, try not to touch the sculptures, paintings, murals and other treasures of the convent. Remember that they are objects of great value, not only economic but also historical.
In addition to the Santa Teresa viceregal art museum, the city of Arequipa is home to several museums such as: the Andean Sanctuaries museum, the Cathedral museum, the Arequipa city museum, the MARIO Vargas Llosa house museum and more.