The Bogotá Museum of Modern Art, MAMBO, showcased 50 years of Colombian art under one roof starting at the end of February when it opened its doors to ‘La Colección’ (1963-2013). Among those in attendance at the launch of this landmark exhibition were former presidents of the Republic, ministers of culture, prolific artists, photographers and of course, the grand dame of Colombian culture, and the museum’s much admired director, Gloria Zea.

Having reached a half century as this country’s most important contemporary art venue, the MAMBO created an “art anthology” for the special celebration, bringing to light hundreds of paintings and sculptures by the nation’s leading artists, among them large masterpieces by Alejandro Obregón, Fernando Botero, Edgar Negret, Debora Arango, Eduardo Villamizar, Juan Antonio Roda and Santiago Cárdenas, to name but a few.


But there are more than 50 years in the MAMBO exhibit if one looks at the timeline of the works, which include 19th century landscapes by the Sabana school of painters, who captured in exquisite detail the mist covered mountains and fields of Bogotá. There are early photographs of Colombian daily life, sepia tinted portraits as well as an area dedicated exclusively to the origins of graphic printing and design.

To tell the story of the museum’s 50 years, Gloria Zea put together a special team for ‘La Colección’: sculptor John Castles and MAMBO curator, Maria Elvira Ardilla. The curators stepped up to the challenge to use the museum’s entire exhibition space on all four floors to create a visual and memorable story of Colombia’s place in contemporary art. The first floor is dedicated to the masters of modernism, those artists who helped shape global movements in art, with a South American feel and “consciousness.”

With 4,300 pieces in its entire collection, the MAMBO also has works by international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya, Auguste Rodin, Joan Miró and Diego Rivera. As one of Bogotá’s most respected museums, the MAMBO holds an impressive record with over 800 exhibitions since it first took shape as a collection in 1955. In 1962, under the artistic direction of Argentine art historian Marta Traba, the collection began expanding with the first international acquisitions. When Gloria Zea took over as the MAMBO’s director in 1969, she made it a priority to have a space specially built to house the fast-growing collection. Designed by architect Rogelio Salmona, the first phase of the new museum of the capital was completed in 1979.

Thanks to Gloria Zea’s unwavering dedication and commitment to culture, the museum has reached an historic moment. As one ascends the stairs to the second, third and fourth floor, one stands in awe of the monumental talent that Colombian artists have given their country over so many decades. From great masters to a younger generation of creators, many names, thanks to the MAMBO’s support and Gloria Zea’s artistic vision have been able shown their works in international venues such as Venice Biennale, Art Basel, MOMA and Tate Modern. The names printed on white paper next to each and every work are familiar to many: Doris Salcedo, Carlos Jacanamijoy, Miguel Ángel Rojas, Carlos Salazar, Pedro Ruíz, Beatriz González.

It’s a list that grows with each new show Zea and curators bring to the capital. The next 50 years for the MAMBO are assured. As the museum plans a major expansion in the near future to its current home, this unique collection could become permanent. Don’t miss the opportunity to see it now. Fifty years only come once in a lifetime.


10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
12:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Calle 24 No. 6-00