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Home > Interests & Activities > Art & History > Museums
World-famous art in world-class facilities; education, whimsy and history in charming cultural institutions; and a combination of Puerto Rican, Latin American and international masters combine to make Puerto Rico one of the most important ambassadors of the arts in the Caribbean.
Beyond our renowned art museums, we boast an array of boutique museums dedicated to children, books, our African heritage and our unique history. We are incredibly proud of these facilities, which offer a diverse and entertaining learning experience for visitors of all ages and interests.
Puerto Rico Museum of Art
The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR) in Santurce is San Juan’s magnificent fine arts showcase. Inaugurated in 2000, the architecturally stunning structure houses 130,000 works of art, including Puerto Rican art from the 17th century to the present. In addition, the museum hosts numerous exhibits throughout the year and boasts an outstanding children’s interactive exhibit.
Among the Puerto Rican artists found here are Puerto Rico’s greatest master, José Campeche, as well as Rafael Tufiño, Francisco Cervoni and Myrna Báez, to name just a few.
Don’t miss a visit to the small but lovely botanical sculpture garden, which includes 26 species of local flora and works from 15 artists around a peaceful koi pool.
Don’t miss the chance to dine at the museum’s restaurant, Laurel. The creation of internationally renowned Chef Mario Pagán, Laurel offers creative fine dining in a modern, artistic setting.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC) celebrates a great variety of modern art expression, from paintings to sculpture to video to mixed media. Housed in the historic Rafael M. Labra building in Santurce, its works officially belong to the people of Puerto Rico.
A Regional Focus
The museum predominantly displays art from around the island and the Caribbean; note that much of the information and literature published here is in Spanish.
While you can dedicate a day to each, the Museum of Contemporary Art is located just a short drive from the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico, making it easy to visit both of Puerto Rico’s largest centers of art in the same day.
After visiting the MAC, head to la Plaza del Mercado, or La Placita, for authentic Puerto Rican cuisine or a relaxing afternoon cocktail.
Museum of Art of Ponce
One of the most important centers of European art in the Caribbean, the Museo de Arte de Ponce is one of Puerto Rico’s most renowned cultural treasures. Among the artists on display here are Roy Lichtenstein, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and Lord Frederic Leighton, to name just a few.
Point and counterpoint
The museum is ingeniously designed not by period or style, but rather by a “point and counterpoint” philosophy that combines works that present contrasting viewpoints of a common theme or subject.
Numerous exhibits at the museum invite you to touch, explore, and otherwise interact with art, giving visitors a greater understanding and appreciation for the collection and presenting a fascinating convergence of art and science.
A Learning Experience
From themed guided tours to book readings to a variety of workshops, there is an educational activity to enjoy at the museum. Call ahead to learn about upcoming events.
The playful yet instructive Museo del Niño is a favorite destination for kids of all ages. With exhibits that include a mini TV studio, children-only town, and a variety of exhibits that educate children about science, health, music and art, the museum is a unique and delightful attraction in Old San Juan.
One of the wonderful experiences the museum offers is the chance for children to become news anchors, and read the latest headlines in front of the camera and an audience of peers.
BAmong the museum’s stars is Stuffee, a giant puppet that instructs children on basic anatomy and the workings of the body. Stuffee can be found on the second floor.
Located just off Cristo Street in Old San Juan, next to El Convento Hotel and the San Juan Cathedral, the Children’s Museum is easily accessible, and makes for an entertaining stop on a walking tour of the old city.
Opened in 2010, the Museo de Vida Silvestre, or Wildlife Museum, is one of Puerto’s newest cultural attractions. Located along Marginal Kennedy Avenue in San Juan, the museum displays around 200 animals from around the world, all featured in their natural habitat.
A Taxidermist’s Dream
The majority of the animals seen at the museum are stuffed and mounted, so don’t expect a zoo when you visit! The friendly guides are happy to explain the science and art of taxidermy during your tour.
Museum Without Barriers
You’ll be happy to learn there are no cages here. The museum was designed to allow visitors to walk freely around its exhibits and get close to its star attractions.
An Eco-conscious Footprint
The museum places great importance on environmental conservation, and that starts with the eco-friendly building, which is aiming for Green Key certification, a designation awarded to eco-conscious tourist facilities.
Museum of Our African Roots
True to its name, this small museum (Museo de Nuestra Raíz Africana in Spanish) pays homage to the history and indelible contribution of Puerto Rico’s African population. Initially brought to the island as slaves, our African community has impacted every aspect of our culture, from our music to our food to our art.
What’s in a word?
The exhibits at the museum include African musical instruments, artifacts from the slave trade and, most interesting, African words that have woven their way into the Puerto Rican language.
Tucked into a corner of Plaza de San José in Old San Juan, the museum is easily accessed, and makes for a quick and insightful stop during a walking tour of the old city.
One of the most poignant exhibits at the museum is a display that retells the harrowing hardships that slaves underwent during an ocean crossing.
La Casa Del Libro
A small but priceless gem in Old San Juan, the House of the Book, or Casa del Libro, is a must-visit for any book-lover. Among its treasures are documents signed by Catholic monarchs dating back to Columbus’s second voyage in 1493 and over 300 volumes from the 15th century.
The museum’s most valued collection includes a series of incunables, or books printed before 1501; in other words, these are editions from the dawn of the modern printing age.
A Few Firsts
The amazing collection includes numerous first editions; as in, the first printed map in which the island of Puerto Rico appears, and a manuscript of Don Quixote that dates to 1605, the first year of its publication in Madrid.
Don’t miss the exhibit of beautifully preserved illustrated pages from manuscripts copied by monastic scribes. The collection ranges from the 12th to the 17th centuries.
Museo Antiguo Parque de Bombas
The most whimsical building in Ponce is a red-and-white Moorish fire station located in Plaza Las Delicias. Built in 1882, the striking Parque de Bombas was the city’s primary fire station for over a century. In 1990, it was decommissioned and converted into a museum commemorating the history of Ponce’s firefighters.
The fire station is also the most central place to buy tickets for, and hope on, the tourist trolley that takes you to the city’s most visited tourist attractions.
Plaza de Las Delicias
While the Parque de Bombas clearly commands attention, it’s not the only landmark in Plaza Las Delicias. Make sure to visit the nearby Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe) and the fountain of lions.
The Fire Engine
The museum’s star attraction is its vintage fire engine, which actually never saw active duty in the city of Ponce. Instead, it transports the mayor once a year during the Ponce Carnival.