When you visit Quito, particularly with kids, places such as Yaku, for its amazing view of the city and its fun water games, MIC for the great interactive science experiments and historically interesting building, beautiful Museo de la Ciudad in El Centro for housing multiple exhibits about the beginings of the city, Museo del Alabado for its beautifully restored colonial house and great collection of pre-colonial artifacts with interactive periods screens, and some more, are a must. Not wanting to replace a guide of Quito’s Museums like Quito Tourism’s, here are my recommendations.
YAKU Water Museum or Museo del Agua Created in what used to be the old water processing plant for the city (there is an exhibit about the old water plant), it is a must visit, with or without kids, just because it has some of the most amazing views of the city. I went there last year with my husband, my 2 young kids and my 2 nieces. We all managed to fit in a taxi that took us up there (you’ll see what I mean by up there when you go). I’ve gone there a couple of times and have found it really hard to get there. Make sure you take a taxi that really knows where it is and make SURE it goes back to get you, unless you have enough time to hike down a big hill in search of public transportation.
The kids had a blast playing in the water exhibits, getting themselves wet running around by and inside the water fountains outside and doing all sort of experiments in a bungalow bellow that has a sample of building an environmentally water-efficient house. It also has a small hiking path. My husband and I loved the visit too as the views from there are outstanding and we had a moment to take them all in as they run around.
Interactive Museum of Science (the MIC) The MIC is a large science museum for kids of all ages (and adults) housed in an old textile factory with ample gardens, coffee shop and play areas. My sister told me about this museum, created a couple of years ago, but thought of it as something smaller and of less significance, but when we finally got there spent the whole day there. We loved the exhibits about the brain and the elements of physics, the temporary dinosaur exhibit, the parks and having lunch at their pleasant coffee shop. As a parent of kids going to a public school in San Francisco, I was delighted on my first visit to this great place, to see public schools on field trips there. In the Quito I grew up in there were not nearly as many facilities as there are now, nor the public to attend them. Another positive sign to me of the growing middle class in Quito and its need of better services to the public and of the impact that some good mayors like Paco Moncayo had on the betterment of the city.
Casa del Alabado, built in 1671 the house where gorgeous little museum is housed, was known many years ago as the house of the Alabado (the praised one). It has an inscription about it. Has been beautifully restored preserving the old structure and patio of the building, yet creating a modern and chick atmosphere inside. It has a great collection of pre-Columbian artifacts with screens that explain the different cultures to which the artifacts belong to. Great for older children and adults.
Museo de la Ciudad The city Museum is housed in one of the city’s older buildings: the San Juan de Dios hospital, built in 1565. This is a beautiful museum with permanent exhibits, showing interesting displays on the history, building of and way of life of Quito during Colonial times. It also has some temporary exhibits, such as last year’s exhibit about the geological expedition who came in the 1800s to measure the center of the world, and another one about Swiss architect Durini who created several beautiful monuments and public service buildings in Quito. I recommend visiting this museum before you head off on your old town visits
The Museum of Guayasamin Can’t wait to take my 11-year-old daughter there and expose her to Guayasamin’s magnificent art. Since his art is a mixture of tender and harsh, I had previously felt that my kids where too young to understand it. I also can’t wait to take her there because his magnificent house/museum/Chapel to Mankind is located in a low income neighborhood where I taught to read and write to adults. My last year of highschool participated in a literacy program in which high-school students taught elementary to low income neighborhoods a couple of hours a day for a year. It was an experience that taught us more than them and which deserves a post in itself. Cant wait to share that experience more in detail with my kids as they grow. Guayasamin was an accomplished artist with paintings located at the Barajas airport in Spain and many other prominent places. Totally worth the visit.
Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, This place, open only in 2010 as a museum, is worth the visit just to see the architecture of the beautiful old hospital that was created in. The hospital, one of the architectural pieces created by Lorenzo Durini and his son Francisco, was shaped as two open hands together with 10 halls so that it would create natural ventilation for the hospital. The building have been nicely restored and is close by the Basilica so worth visiting both in one pass.
Casa de Maria Augusta Urrutia I went to this museum with my grandma about 15 years ago when they just opened it. Maria Augusta was apparently an old aunt of my grandma. A tour guide took us around the house. My grandma was in her 90s and very opinionated and kept interrupting and correcting the poor guide to facts I better not mention here. Cant wait to visit this place again this summer with my kids and relive the moments I spent there with my grandma (you is if you made the math correctly not around unless she was to be 104). It has a collection of paintings by Victor Mideros and fine displays of French porcelain, silver dinnerware and colonial art and is a good example of how the houses used to look like before getting subdivided into several apartments.
Lonely Planet review of it:
“On Calle García Moreno, just southwest of Calle Sucre, you’ll find the Casa Museo María Augusta Urrutía . Of Quito’s house museums, this is the one not to miss: it’s a splendidly preserved, 19th-century house, once the home of the city’s best-loved philanthropist, María Augusta Urrutía, and sprinkled with period furnishings, stained-glass windows, European artwork and a lush courtyard. Free guided tours are in Spanish and English.”