Museo Irq’i Yachay

This past Monday my Spanish teacher, Holga, and I visited the Museo Irq’i Yachay as part of the ‘real-life practice’ portion of our lesson.  Located in the center of Cusco this museum was established by the Asociación Cultural Ayllu Yupaychay in an effort to promote intercultural diffusion.  On display are various examples of indigenous children’s art works and documentary archives gathered during teaching trips to remote indigenous villages outside of Cusco.  The museum offers a unique insight into the culture and traditions of these indigenous children and the differences in education that exist between them and their urban counterparts.  Unfortunately, Ayllu Yupaychay’s website (see link above) is only available in Spanish.  This is an excerpt from the museum’s english language brochure describing the association’s mission and objectives:

“From 1991-1998, our Peruvian non-profit cultural association made forty-nine teaching expeditions to thirty-one distant Altoandino communities throughout Region Cusco to improve the limited primary education that their children have historically received.  The Quechua people living in these isolated villages have been one of the most under served indigenous populations in all of Perú.  However, for this same isolation in which they have subsisted for generations, it is here that the Andean cultural traditions and practices are still found the most intact.

In these distant Quechua communities to which Ayllu Yupaychay travels, self-expression through visual art is unknown to their children for lack of access to art materials and curriculum limitations.  Our alternative teaching methodology uses visual arts and creative activity to address this fundamental necessity for childhood development.

For children who have never before made a painting or drawing, their creative efforts have exceptional aesthetic qualities expressed with a purity that reflects the traditional lives they live.  These rural Quechua children know nothing, nor do we teach, about the art of painting.  Therefore, their paintings should not be viewed in the usual artistic sense.  These children have made cultural messages using an inherent visual code to try to communicate about their lives, traditions and beliefs.  Their extraordinary design sense and worldview is part of their cultural inheritance from the Incas.”

As of 2006, the Asociación Cultural Ayllu Yupaychay has resumed its teaching trips to remote Altoandino communities and is currently working to document the changes that have taken place in the communities over these years.

Museo Irq’i Yachay (Museo de Arte de Niños Andinos) is located at 344 Calle Teatro in central Cusco.  Admission is free.

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