Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry is Uruguay’s first contemporary art museum

Uruguay welcomes MACA, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry by architect Carlos Ott

The MACA building captured from afar with trees and the sky in the background photographed at dusk
(Image credit: NICOLAS VIDAL AND LORENA LARRIESTRA)

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry (MACA), Uruguay’s new contemporary art venue, has just opened its doors to the public. The major cultural destination, spearheaded by the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, the Uruguayan sculptor’s Miami-based non-profit institution, has been designed by celebrated Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott. The new scheme, located in Punta del Este, is the ‘first and only museum in Uruguay promoting global contemporary art’, say its representatives. 

The building unfolds as a dynamic wave or the bow of a ship, a curvaceous structure that appears almost to be moving on its landscaped terrain. It is wrapped in glass- and aluminium-clad enclosures that shimmer in the sun, and an aluminium roof that is held up by an impressive timber frame construction, made of Red Grandis eucalyptus. The sweeping curves of the timber elements cleverly allow for column-free interiors and large halls that can be flexible and accommodate exhibitions of different scales. 

The exterior of the MACA building showing off its curved architecture and photographed at dusk


(Image credit: NICOLAS VIDAL AND LORENA LARRIESTRA)

Set in expansive grounds, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry opened with fresh artwork by Atchugarry himself, but also a temporary show of work by Christo and Jeanne-Claude – whom the sculptor admires greatly. There are also shows with works from the permanent collection, by artists including Richard Anuszkiewicz, Carmelo Arden Quin, Pablo Atchugarry, José Pedro Costigliolo, Carlos Cruz Diez, Sandú Darié, Jorge Eielson and Wifredo Lam, among many others. Displays are arranged across five flexible exhibition halls and a sculpture park – catering for outdoor art of all scopes and sizes.

‘There is a common concern among artists and collectors, which consists in thinking about where their works will go, the fruit of a lifetime, the passion that has always accompanied them,’ says Atchugarry, who led the project. ‘So, a few years ago, the idea of building a museum was born, right within the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, which is in some way the cultural heritage that I leave for Uruguay. I think that MACA will belong to humanity and that, like a ship loaded with art, life and dreams, it will lead us to a world of greater understanding and love.’ The museum will be headed by director Leonardo Noguéz. 

Exterior of the building captured from the bottom with flowers on the right photographed at dusk


(Image credit: NICOLAS VIDAL AND LORENA LARRIESTRA)

Interior exhibition view at the museum of contemporary art featuring white walls with wall art and white ceiling with silver ceiling lighthing. In the center is a white podium with mini sculptures on display


(Image credit: NICOLAS VIDAL AND LORENA LARRIESTRA)

Interior of the building in a large space showcasing the curved wood roof details, wall art (on the left wall) and tall grey sculptured on the right


(Image credit: NICOLAS VIDAL AND LORENA LARRIESTRA)

Sculpture photographed in the dark in a studio

(Image credit: NICOLAS VIDAL AND LORENA LARRIESTRA)

INFORMATION 

carlosott.com (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).