Museum of Virreinal Art

Virreinal art Interpretation Room

This was the old entrance to the Monastery. Here is a lathe through which the nuns could communicate with their visitors without mediating visual communication. In four showcases, it is shown how they painted murals on ashlar, how they painted and applied gold leafon the old canvasses, the steps of the elaboration of the sculptures of maguey glued fabric and the techniques to decorate furniture and other wooden objects.

Museum of Virreinal Art

Cloister of the Offices

Named like that because in the rooms that face the cloister, the nuns developed their offices (office of the Mother Prioress, entrance, clothes room, infirmary, ringing of the bells, etc.) It is one of the few cloisters in Arequipa which still retains its complete gardening and which apart from pleasing the eye, provides moisture to the dry climate of Arequipa. It was built after 1750. It is outstanding the fountain carved in translucent alabaster in the central part.

On the upper part of its walls you can read verses of Saint Teresa of Jesus and other Carmelite Saints. They are in a small book that can be bought at the Candy shop of the museum.

Prioral Room

Room of the Camelite Order

Until some days before the opening of the Museum (16th June 2005), it was the Prioral Room which was the office of the Mother Prioress. Being a Carmelite Monastery, the theme of this first Room is the Carmelite Order. Here we can see paintings of Saint Teresa of Jesus and Saint Jhon of the Cross and a big reliquary with the relics of Carmelite saints.

Museum of Virreinal Art

Nativity and Sacred Family Room

In the past it was the sewing room of the nuns’ community where they used to make their habits and other clothing. Now it presents a selection of model figures of the birth and chilhood of Baby Jesus, within which the most important and one of the most valuable is the extraordinary Trunk of the Nativity , the pieces of which were made in around 1730 in Quito, Ecuador and were brought from there on the back of a mule. In this room it is exhibited a marvellous collection of images of Baby Jesus, among others.


Goldsmith’s room

In the old Infirmary, nowadays impressive goldsmith’s pieces and objects made of metal and other precious materials are exhibited,excelling the Custody that was made in Arequipa for the Monastery shortly after its foundation.We can also see an impressive image of Christ made of African ivory, probably carved by Asian artists commissioned by Spanish indoctrinators and merchants who marketed and used these pieces in America, later.

Museum of Virreinal Art

Capitular Room

In this space the nuns have met since the mid 18th Century to make important decisions for their community. It still has the same use and that is why the decoration with which it was found before opening the museum has been preserved. This room is part of the `Living Museum’. Of special interest in this room is the Rococo style wall painting of the late 18th century and early 19th century.

There are also several canvasses inspired by old European engravings, such as The Worship of the Golden Calf, two scenes of the life of King David or The Transit of the Virgin, among others.

Museum of Virreinal Art

Low Choir

It is another of the spaces that form `The Live Museum’ of Saint Teresa as it is still being used by the nuns to participate in the daily mass and say their community prayers, the Sixth Hour, the Angelus and The Soul Searching, which are prayed at noon.

The ornamentation found here has also been preserved, it consists of several paintings and sculptures about various themes, materials and times of an impressive quality.

De Profundis

Room of the Passion of Christ

In this room you can see a complete Via Crucis consisting of 14 small canvasses with carved and gilded frames of Rococo style. We can also find a showcase with a beautiful wooden carving of Christ Flagellated, which is considered a masterpiece of baroque art.

Room of the Bells

Hall of the Saints of the Church

At midday this Room is closed to the public. And through an interesting system of pulleys, the nun in charge, rings the three chimes that announce the time of the Angelus. From the cloister the movement of the ropes can be seen and the sound of of the bells can be heard, the same as it has been since 1710.

The sculptures of Saints founders of Religious Orders that have or have had a presence in Arequipa stand out in a showcase: San Francisco de Asís, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, San Ignacio de Loyola, San Pedro Nolasco and Saint Teresa of Jesus. The life-size sculpture of San Pedro de Alcántara is very realistic. It was surely made in Quito, with its face and hands cast in lead and carefully polychrome.

High Choir

Room of the Virgin Mary

The High Choir is still being used, and is part of the Live Museum.From the High Choir the nuns participate and sing in the Holiday Masses. During the Viceroyalty one of the most usual artistic representations in the evangelization process, was the motherly figure of the Virgin Mary. Here we find beautiful carvings of various Marian invocations found in America, especially in the Andean zone.

The life-size sculpture of the Transit of the Virgin is especially interesting, because the unknown artist carved the image in wood, with the posture of a dead person, but with open eyes, suggesting life because according to the tradition of the Church the Virgin did not die but ascended into heaven in body and soul. Two Angels, crowned with regal mascaypachas are looking at the sky, suggesting the Assumption of the Virgin.

Large Booth

Room of Everyday Life I

In this room the nuns received their eventual visitors. Nowadays various objects related to the daily life in the Monastery are exhibited, such as the music, the making of hosts and incenses, the practice of painting, the cookery, the pharmacy and and other daily activities.

It is important to look at the large canvass on the wall at the back which allegorically represents this Monastery. Here we also find the portray of the famous nun Catalina Correa whose entry is one of the most interesting stories of the Monastery.

Community Booth

Room of Everyday Life II

In this room nowadays a selectionof porcelain pieces from China, Spain, England an d other countries is shown. The crockery shown here is most likely to have been brought to the Monastery as part of the dowry that each nun’s family had to give to the Monastery for the maintenance of the new nun. The Chinese dishes of the Wan Li Dinasty that date between 1572 and 1619 are of great importance.

The Infirmary

Room of the Angels

In this room, attached to the infirmary, a collection of paintings and sculptures of virreinal angels and arcangels is exhibited. One of the most important contributions made by the south Andean artists to universal art, is the icono graphic creation of the arcabucero angels and archangels who, like heavenly warriors, fight against evil, armed with guns.

Museum of Virreinal Art

The Service Alley

The service staff that assisted the whole community , this means all the nuns not a particular one, used to live in the rooms of this colorful hall. There were maids in the Monastery only until the beginning of the 20th century. The eventual workers and even the oxen that regularly entered the garden to plow the farmland, walked along this alley.

Entrance Storeroom

Room of Temporary Exhibitions

Here the supplies that entered into the Monastery through the monastery’s gate were kept. We can find three small niches that maintain a slightly lower temperature than the rest of the room, which was very useful to preserve the food. In this room various temporary exhibitions are presented throughout the year.