Botero Museum of the Banco de la República
In the year 2000, Fernando Botero donated an art collection of 208 pieces to Banco de la República. 123 of these were his personal artwork and 85 were from his private collection of renowned international artists. Based on this collection, the Botero Museum was founded. The museum is located in the La Candelaria neighborhood, a historical section of Bogota, in a colonial house that until 1955 served as the office of the archbishop. The house was restored and adapted by Banco de la República to become a museum, under the guidance and curatorship of the master artist himself. As of the first of November, 2000, the collection has been available at no charge to the public every day, except on Tuesdays.
During the opening of the Botero Museum, the artist said: “It is for me an infinite pleasure to know that these works of art belong to Colombia today; to know that the students that come into this building will be in touch with the most significant artistic pieces of our times, being able to contemplate, on a permanent basis, original artwork made by great masters; and to know that lovers of painting and sculpture can come visit this haven of peace and stroll quietly through the halls, allowing themselves to be enveloped by modern aesthetics.”
In the west wing of the museum are exhibited 123 pieces of art created by the master Botero himself. These consist of paintings, drawings and sculptures. The distinct characteristics of the artist’s work are present: his mastery of technique, the consistency of his vision, the creativity, the sensuality, the handling of volume, the unexpected attention to detail, and that combination of irony and respect that has been a signature in his approach to Colombian themes, as well as his references to universal painting. They are, primarily, works of the last decades of the 20th century that allow us to enjoy the language and style that has characterized the artist in his maturity.
The east wing of the Botero Museum exhibits 85 works of art of the highest caliber which show in full the evolution of modern painting and sculpture. The oldest piece is Gitane au tambourin (pre-1862) by Camille Corot, and the most recent piece is the great oil painting of Barceló (1998). This collection brings together such renowned artists as Picasso, Leger, Renoir, Monet, Dali, Giacometti, Beckmann, Freud, Calder, and Bacon, and has placed the Botero Museum among the five most important public international art collections in Latin America.
Each day near a thousand people visit the Botero Museum. Among these are children, teachers, adults, and families, who can participate free of charge in educational programs offered daily by the Banco de la República in order to bring the public closer to this magnificent collection. A variety of activities, among them guided tours, lectures, conferences, and workshops for children as well as teachers, are offered, fulfilling the desire of the master Fernando Botero’s wishes for this collection: to be there forever, for the education and enjoyment of all the Colombian people.
As a newspaper expressed at the time, the donation by Fernando Botero was “the greatest gift that a Colombian has ever made to his country.”