Two of Cuenca’s private museums say they are in financial trouble and need public and private support to remain open.
Two weeks ago, the board of directors of Museo de las Conceptas said it was considering closing the religious museum because of a revenue shortfall.
The museum, located on Calle Hermano Miguel between Presidente Cordova and Jaramillo, is housed in the Conceptas Monastery, the second oldest Spanish-era structure in Cuenca.
Four blocks away, on Calle Larga, the Museo de las Culturas Aborigenes is also foundering under financial pressure and its owner is seeking funding from government educational sources.
Both museums say that public museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Pumapungo Museum, have an advantage in attracting visitors since they do not charge admission.
After the announcement that Museo de las Conceptas may close, national and municipal officials met with museum director Clara Jaramillo and pledged support to keep the museum open until the end of year, with hopes that a long-term solution can be found.
Juan Cordero, owner and director of Museo de las Culturas Aborigenes, is also seeking additional support to stay open. He is talking to the government about making the museum an educational stop of school children of Azuay and Cañar provinces.
Rising need for bi- and trilingual citizen guards
The city of Cuenca is looking to increase the number of bi- and trilingual members of its Citizen Guard to help the growing number of foreign tourists visiting the city. The biggest need is for English and French speakers, but the city says it is looking for German speakers too.
The citizen guard works primarily in the historic district as well in several city parks. Currently, 14 of the 65 guard members speak English or French, and many have university level training in tourism management.
Citizen guard Adrian Delgado, who speaks both English and French, says that his services are needed every day and he activtely offers assistance to tourists in Parque Calderon. “I’m here to help them get around town and tell them about tourist sites that they might want to see.”
In addition to helping tourists, Delgado and other guards are trained to handle emergencies, such as theft and injury. Delgado says that the presence of the guard is responsible for the decline of theft and assualt in the historic district.
City buying property for Av. Lasso road project
The city of Cuenca hopes to complete its condemnation of properties on Av. Ordoñez Lasso by the end of the year ahead of the road widening project scheduled to begin in early 2014.
According to Mauricio Ochoa, Director of Infrastructure and Public Works, there are about 300 homes and business that will be affected by the project. “This is large number but because so many structures on Av. Lasso are so close to the road, we have no choice but to condemn them. The new road will be almost twice the width of the current one.”
A major obstacle in condemning and purchasing properties, says Ochoa, is property deeds that are not up to date. “In most cases, there are inheritance issues that need to be resolved,” he says.
Photo caption: Museo de las Culturas Aborigenes on Calle Larga