El Museo de Cacha…lets see what we’ve got!

Mural for Winter on outside of Museum

El Museo de Cacha is located in the center of Pucara Tambo, it is the first thing a visitor sees when entering the site after going through the huge puerto del sol, but may people bypass it because the door does not face the entrance to the site, instead is faces the ceremonial square on its other side. The building itself is interesting because it is a circle, which is supposed to represent the mountains that ring Riobamba and around the outside has four murals depicting the four seasons, that are my favorite pieces in the museum. Overall the museum depicts the traditional dress of the Cacha Indians, in two display cases and on two mannequins and shows pictures of the different festivals that are celebrated in Cacha each year. There are no text panels, so you have to have a guide take you through the displays, since it has been raining every day for the last two weeks, I have become very familiar with every piece in the museum, but I would say that the average visitor you likely be drawn to the traditional outfits and not much else.

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From talking to the  guides and other people who work at El Museo, along with my own observations I found out that the people of Cacha do not come to the museum and after seeing the contents it makes sense because the museum basically details the way that they currently live their lives. The traditional dress in the museum could have been taken off of any woman walking around the mountains, with varying colors. The only time I have seen the men wearing the entire traditional outfit was during the ceremony when I first arrived, but they do wear ponchos regularly, but have jeans on underneath instead of the all white. The photos that cover the walls detailing the festivals have been taken within the last four years and they take place down the road at the parroquia each year.

Basically what I am saying is that the only people who will currently find this museum interesting are tourists and members of the community who have been gone from the area for generations because the people who currently live in Cacha live what is in the museum. I am not trying to discount the museum, in fact with all the people from the community who are leaving, they have a 75% migration rate, this museum could become very important in the future, when more people come to visit, rather than live in the area.

Posted by Sarah Szabo — MA Candidate in CLACS/Museum Studies at NYU

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