Paraguay’s Museum of Mud – And So Much More

Museo del Barro in Asunción, Paraguay

Alex Marshall, The Guardian, August 5, 2015

This museum is difficult to find – it hasn’t even got a sign – but it’s a thrilling insight into the country’s past and present. I’d been in Asunción for a week researching, of all things, Paraguay’s national anthem (the brilliantly named Republic or Death), when I decided to visit the Museo del Barro. I had by then fallen for the city – it’s hard not to love a place where the locals spend their time passing around gourds of herb-filled iced tea (tereré). But whenever new arrivals at my hotel asked me what they should see I was at a loss; the city’s “sights” seemed to be its people, not any particular place.

I headed out to the museum without expectations, especially since it was just off one of the city’s busiest roads, had opening hours based around a three-and-a-half hour lunch break and its name apparently translated as “museum of mud”. But when I finally found it, amid petrol garages and blocks of flats, I was dumbstruck by how great it was.

Related: An insider's guide to Asunción: Super-relaxed, upbeat and carefree

There were rooms overflowing with cartoonish Jesuit figurines and smiling traditional masks reflecting Paraguay’s past, bang up against modern exhibits – photos, installations – giving insights into the country’s politics I hadn’t got from many days’ research. Those juxtapositions made it all feel so exciting, so fresh. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t internationally celebrated. That evening, I told everyone at the hotel where to go. I just made sure to draw them a map.
Alex Marshall’s book, Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems, is published on 27 August by Random House, at £14.99. To buy a copy for £11.99 with free UK p&p, go to or call 0330 333 6846

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This article was written by ALEX MARSHALL from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.