The is SD's main art gallery and it has a nice collection of Dominican art work. The main floor is reserved for special exhibits (there was an international tile exhibition when we visited), the basement has features on Caribbean artists and the second floor contains the permanent collection. The art work is arranged chronologically and are explanations of the social and political environments in which each of the artists worked, as well as the primary influences on Caribbean art at that time. A word of caution to those who are sensitive to humidity: the Museum has very poor climate control and the top floor is really just a sauna (which can't be good for the art work).
Long before Columbus set foot in the Dominican Republic, the island was home to several native tribes - especially the Taino Indians. Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican Man) displays the country's cultural evolution from pre-historic time to present time through a variety of pre-Columbian and Spanish colonial artifacts. There are furthermore special exhibitions about the African slavery, carnival costumes and the voodoo tradition in the Dominican Republic.
I had really high expectations of the museum, but was a little disappointed. The museum was established around 1975, and several exhibitions looked like they haven’t been renewed since then. The exhibition text (and other signs) only written in Spanish, but I have read that you can join a tour with a English speaking guide.
Opening hours: Tuesday thru Sunday (10am to 5pm).
Admission fee: 50 peso for adults.
The Plaza de Cultura is a large cultural complex in the norther end of Santo Domingo that contains four museums: Museo de Arte Moderno, Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Museo de Historia y Geografía and Museo de Historia Natural. The Teatro Nacional is also located here. It is a bit of an odd location, given that what surrounds the park is either residential or warehouse type buildings. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful green space with many fountains and outdoor sculptures to entertain you even when you are not inside the museums. My sister and I wandered the grounds, but it appeared that the only institution that was open for visitors when we went (December 2006) was that Museo de Arte Moderno. You should likely check all the museum's before heading out there if you are intent on visiting them all. Nevertheless, the sculpted gardens, some of which have monuments to various famous Dominicans, are quite nice.
The Museo de Hombre Dominicano is devoted primarily to the Taino Indians who lived on the island before the arrival of the Spanish. Even though most of them were killed or died following the conquest, and the Dominicans of today trace their roots primarily to the Spanish and the Aftican slaves, they are very interested in the heritage of the native inhabitants. The museum displays numerous objects created by the Tainos and teaches their culture. There is also a large exhibit on the religion, culture and life of the African slaves
Museum is definitely worth the visit, and is overall a very good effort. It is located in Gazcue, the Western suburb.
A great value at 15 pesos, although like all Dominican musuems, air conditioning is non-existent. This musuem traces the history of the Dominicans from the Indians Columbus encountered to the Africans the Spanish bought for slaves and eventually intermarried. Great exhibit on voodoo and Carnival.
If you don't speak Spanish, consider paying the extra 30 pesos for a guide who speaks English.
Many of the museums of Santo Domingo are located in the Plaza de la Cultura, a large park area where visitors can stroll easily from one museum to another. These include the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of History and Geography, and the National Museum of Natural History. There are as well the National Library, national Theatre....
In our short and atypical visit we only saw part of the Museum of Modern Art. We had the opportunity to attend the inauguration of the V Biennial of Caribbean Contemporary Art, really interesting, both as per some good art pieces on the exhibit, as people-watching event!! :-)