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View of a wing of the former Miguelete Prison which housed inmates from 1888 until 1986 and that has been transformed into the Contemporary Art Space (EAC), in Montevideo, Uruguay, March 22, 2018. EPA-EFE/Sarah Yañez-Richards
View of a wing of the former Miguelete Prison which housed inmates from 1888 until 1986 and that has been transformed into the Contemporary Art Space (EAC), in Montevideo, Uruguay, March 22, 2018. EPA-EFE/Sarah Yañez-Richards

Former Uruguay prison turned into contemporary arts center, museum

The former Miguelete Prison, which housed inmates from 1888 until 1986, has been transformed into the Contemporary Art Space (EAC).

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Colorful works of art and items telling Uruguay's natural history share the walls and halls in a wing of the former Miguelete Prison, which housed inmates from 1888 until 1986 and has been transformed into the Contemporary Art Space (EAC).

Eight years ago, one of the cellblocks in the starfish-shaped facility got a second life as the EAC, a space for the exhibition of avant-garde creations by Uruguayan and foreign artists.

The EAC, which will be officially inaugurated on July 18, was expanded to include nature exhibits.

The galleries, sponsored by the National Natural Art Museum (MNAN), are located in what used to be the building from which the guards monitored the five wings.

"This is a space that starts to shine as a great art and sciences cultural center," MNAN director Javier Gonzalez told EFE. "This place will function as an echo chamber for the benefit of both institutions."

The inauguration date is the anniversary of the day in 1838 when MNAN opened its doors to the public for the first time, Gonzalez said.

"For over 180 years, our institution ambulated through different venues without a place of its own," he said. "This is the first time that the museum will settle on a venue of its own."

EAC director Fernando Sicco told EFE that Miguelete "is the oldest panoptic prison - a facility built so that all its parts can be monitored from one point - preserved in Latin America in its original condition."

Similar buildings in Buenos Aires and Lima were demolished, and the one in Bogota, which is now also a museum, has been remodeled, Sicco said.

Miguelete's unique structure gives it "additional tourist appeal," Sicco said.

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